Dog Attack Bill Divides East Texans - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

2/16/07-Longview

Dog Attack Bill Divides East Texans

     Should pet owners go to prison if their dogs injure or kill someone? That's the worst case scenario of a bill that is in the Texas senate.    The bill would dole out stiff penalties to Texas pet owners, in the event that pet injures or kills someone. However, some pet owners say this proposition goes too far, and could send law-abiding citizens to jail.    Some animal control agencies say their bill could have a very positive effect.

    "This targets owners of pets that are involved with animals inflicting bodily harm, it's very specific and focused" said Buck Farrar of the Longview environmental health department and animal control.

     While animal control agencies say the bill is a good idea, dog owners don't agree.

   "There's a hug gray area especially on the issue of negligence on the owners part, if the owner had prior knowledge if the owner let his dog run loose" says Longview dog owner Belinda Wiggins.

     Written after an elderly woman was mauled by dogs in Milam county, s-b 405 would hold an owner responsible for injuries or death, regardless if this was the first time the dog attacked someone. The dog would also be put down, and the owner could face either misdemeanor or felony charges.

    "Any animal can bite depending on the situation if its in a stressful situation" says Roxanne Hutson of the humane society of Gregg county.

     No specific breed of dog is targeted in this proposed legislation but the owners are targeted.

 "You never know what dogs are going to be dangerous. They're capable of inflicting bodily injury on kids and adults" says Farrar.

     Another problem making owners think twice, fear the bill would target larger breeds of dogs.

   "Even though they say they would not target a certain breed I think people would be looking for that" Wiggins says.

     And there is another problem that could be created if the bill passes.

    "Should legislation like this pass there's a little concern that more people might be inclined to give up their pets if they think their pet might be a problem" Hutson says, thinking more dogs will end up in the humane shelter.

    If the bill passes, it could go into effect by September.

 Bob Hallmark/bhallmark@kltv.com .

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