Dog Bite Bill Could Have Owners Facing Jail Time - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

04/12/05 - Lufkin

Dog Bite Bill Could Have Owners Facing Jail Time

by Stuart Burson

A bill now making the rounds in Austin would make it possible for dog owners in some areas of the state to face prison time if their pet bites another person.

House bill 1096 would make it a third degree felony for a dog's owner if the dog bites another human, causing serious bodily injury.

That means the possibility of ten years in jail.

The way the bill now reads, it's only for municipalities with more than 1 point nine million people, but that could change.

Right now in Lufkin, there are often no fines imposed on owners of biting dogs.

"There's not a fine involved for your dog biting someone inside the city unless he was at large, then we could file dog at large. There's dangerous dog declarations and potentially dangerous dog declarations for aggressive dogs that commit unprovoked attacks." says Rhonda McLendon with Lufkin Animal Control.

But even if you're not fined, that doesn't mean you always get to keep your pet.

"If you have an animal that is dangerous and we deem dangerous then it's not a requirement by the city that you're allowed to keep it. It's not allowed in the city after that point."

Mail carriers often have to deal with dangerous dogs on their letter routes. Jeanette Thomas knows these dogs can make the job tough.

"There's been times when we couldn't even go and deliver to the house, the dogs have been so bad. We've had dogs that would chase us down the street. I've been bit several times, before this job, on other jobs." says Thomas.

Despite incidents like that, one dog owner we caught up with thinks jail time for dog owners goes a little too far.

"I think it's a little harsh... I don't know how easy it would be to pass it, or make people accept it."

Animal control officers tell us, the best thing dog owners can do to avoid potential problems, is to keep their pets from running loose. In Lufkin, a dog must be either fenced in, on a leash, or chained.

Also, every dog owner must show proof that their dog has been vaccinated for rabies.

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