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Regulating Dangerous Dogs:

An article in today's New York Times (here) discusses a Virginia law governing dogs that have been declared dangerous by a court for attacking a person. The dogs go on a public registry, similar to a sex offender registry, and the owners are required to carry a $100,000 liability insurance policy.

The registry seems a bit silly: are people really going to consult the directory and make a housing purchase decision because a dog who has bitten lives nearby? It might be somewhat more useful for someone choosing a jogging route, but if you've never seen the felonious canine where you jog or walk, you probably aren't going to change your behavior based on the small chance that Cujo might jump over the fence when you are passing by.

The liability insurance requirement, on the other hand, is an excellent idea. If you want to own a dangerous dog, why should the rest of us bear the risk? Homeowners insurance often covers dog bites, but many policy have exclusions and, of course, many dog owners are not home owners. I don't have data, but I would hazard a guess that a fair number of "dangerous dog" owners are judgment proof.

The idea of the insurance requirement might even be a way to break the longstanding stalemate over "dangerous breed" regulation. A number of localities have passed laws against the ownership of dangerous breeds — usually pit bulls and Rottweilers. I have no problem with these laws. Dog bites are a serious problem: they send 800,000 people to the emergency room every year, half of them children. And these two breeds are responsible for 1/2 to 2/3 of fatal or near fatal bits, depending on the study. I love dogs (and own one), but I don't think that prohibiting people from owning certain types of dogs is a significant infringement on liberty. I do realize, however, that, as a practical matter, "dangerous breed" laws raise a lot of opposition on the grounds that individual dogs that are properly trained are (usually) not dangerous, regardless of the breed, and that if certain breeds are banned, people who want aggressive dogs will just teach other breeds to be aggressive. So how about a compromise position? If you want to own a pitt bull or Rottweiler you must have liability insurance, just like you must have auto insurance if you want to operate a car.

George Lyon (mail):
There are no inherently dangerous dogs, only dangerous or demented people who mistreat dogs, e.g., Michael Vick, assuming he is guilty of what he has been charged. The problem with the Virginia statute is in its application. Apparently one dog on the list is a lab who nipped someone's ankle, causing such "grievous bodily harm" that the "victim" had a bruise.
7.23.2007 4:09pm
ChrisIowa (mail):
or how about requiring liability insurance for any dog. Then the insurance companies could evaluate the dogs and set rates according to breed, training, age, or whatever risk factors they determine.
7.23.2007 4:12pm
theobromophile (www):
Are you proposing to extend the insurance requirement to all dangerous breeds, not just the specific dogs which have bitten people?

Not a bad idea - and it is akin to mandatory car insurance. I do prefer the Virginia idea of a registry and insurance policy to the Massachusetts law, whereby a dog who bites someone can be put down (regardless of level of injury to the victim and any provocation).
7.23.2007 4:14pm
FantasiaWHT:
It's nearly impossible to get a substantial number of people to pay a couple bucks a year to register their dogs with local municipalities. You think any real number of people are actually going to pay that insurance premium?

The kind of person who would be unable to pay a civil judgment for damage their dog does isn't going to pay insurance, or any penalty for not getting that insurance either.
7.23.2007 4:14pm
Litigator:
It's an excellent idea. Unfortunately, I suspect it will wither on the vine due to a lack of enforcement.

From the link:

Even with stiffer penalties, animal control departments are often understaffed and under-financed and therefore unable to apply the laws.

“Leash laws don’t work because they’re not enforced,” said Mary Hill, the sister of Lillian Stiles, who was killed in Texas in November 2005 by a pack of dogs and whose death inspired the state’s law.


Something tells me that this is going to be a tricky one to enforce. The state will generally only be aware of the lack of coverage after an 'incident', and by then it's too late.

After the initial push of publicity about this law, there will doubtless be people who own pit bulls and don't even know they're required to have insurance... let alone the people who know and flout the law.
7.23.2007 4:15pm
John Armstrong (mail) (www):
You're right, this is a pretty great idea.

One thing you didn't mention: it's a fixed value for the policy, not a fixed price. Do you live way out in the country without many other people around? $INSURANCE_COMPANY will charge you less because it's less likely anyone will be bitten. Did you send your dog through a proper training program? Again, your premium goes down.

On the other hand, does your untrained dog live unchained in an unfenced backyard facing a tot-lot? Well, your premium ain't gonna be cheap.
7.23.2007 4:20pm
Litigator:
or how about requiring liability insurance for any dog. Then the insurance companies could evaluate the dogs and set rates according to breed, training, age, or whatever risk factors they determine.

That goes too far. Do we really need a four pound Pomeranian to be insured? There are plenty of fully-grown dogs who couldn't maim a toddler.
7.23.2007 4:22pm
John Armstrong (mail) (www):
FantasiaWHT: It's pretty easy to forgo your car insurance too. Sure, if you don't keep up on it they'll tell the DMV and the DMV will pull your registration, but who's to know? I went months without putting the little windshield sticker on my car last time I renewed my registration, and nobody was the wiser. For all they knew my car was unregistered.

So now answer me why we bother registering cars at all and I'll tell you how this dog insurance thing works out.
7.23.2007 4:24pm
ras (mail):
The insurance rate should reflect both the breed and the de facto owner.

Pit Bulls don't necessarily attack more often than other dogs, but when they do it is usually unexpected (they give no warning) and particularly vicious, as unlike most dogs their instincts are not to force submission but to kill.

A more accurate way to predict dog danger than by profiling just the breed is to profile the owner, too, and that's why the owner's history should factor into the insurance rate, because the bigger prob is where you get an angry loner as the owner (and bigger still if our tough guy buys a pit bull).
7.23.2007 4:24pm
Ron Hardin (mail) (www):
Horrible idea. You're buying into the soap opera narrative of dangerous dogs.

Vicki Hearne (Bandit : Dossier of a Dangerous Dog) has a nicely written discussion of where it all came from, and what the statistics really are.

(Short form : HSUS found Pit Bulls to be an excellent fund-raising device in the 80s, and the media found it great for audience, so America's Dog in WWI became the menace of children. Pit Bulls are used as therapy dogs because of their stable temperament and strength, if that matters. Probably not.)
7.23.2007 4:26pm
arthur (mail):
I doubt that insurance coverage will be available at any reasonable cost (e.g. less than the liability limit) for "dogs that have been declared dangerous by a court attacking a person."

Also, a "court attacking a person" would also have difficulty obtaining insurance. Perhaps it could plead judicial immunity . . .
7.23.2007 4:29pm
Ron Hardin (mail) (www):
con't. Vicki Hearne's _Bandit_ is a book I've excerpted a lot from, for various purposes, and put up on the web. Here are some links to those bits

Degas and the Fallen Jockey at the Metropolitan
IQ Tests
Powerful and Dangerous Theory and Horsemanship
Women and Science
Pit Bull Ghetto Dweller
Dead Dogs
Fun
Neutering
Gender Circus
Hog Dog Breeding
Bites
The Media
Stray Roundups
Banality of Evil

I recommend her writing, and the topic is current again.
7.23.2007 4:37pm
Ron Hardin (mail) (www):
SORRY!! links fixed (hope)

con't. Vicki Hearne's _Bandit_ is a book I've excerpted a lot from, for various purposes, and put up on the web. Here are some links to those bits

Degas and the Fallen Jockey at the Metropolitan
IQ Tests
Powerful and Dangerous Theory and Horsemanship
Women and Science
Pit Bull Ghetto Dweller
Dead Dogs
Fun
Neutering
Gender Circus
Hog Dog Breeding
Bites
The Media
Stray Roundups
Banality of Evil

I recommend her writing, and the topic is current again.
7.23.2007 4:41pm
Shelby (mail):
Another problem is that there is no defined "pit bull" breed. There are various bully breeds, including e.g. the American Staffordshire Terrier. Morevoer, a large percentage of "pit bulls" (and to an extent, of Rottweilers) are cross-breeds making the classification a subjective, hence debatable, call.
7.23.2007 4:44pm
Adeez (mail):
Liability insurance is a great idea. Mandate that along w/forced sterilization.

But as both a proud liberal and dog lover, I deem breed discrimination as insidious as racial discrimination. To add my voice to the few in the above chorus: no dog is inherently bad or vicious. Sure, the potential harm from a Rottweiler is worse than that from a shitzu. But that says nothing about their potential to harm anyone in the first instance. Make coverage mandatory for all dog owners, and let the insurance companies derive a fair formula.

After all, that harmless shitzu could be Cujo to the neighbor's cat.
7.23.2007 4:48pm
rarango (mail):
While I agree that enforcing an insurance requirement for (all) dog owners may create enforcement problems, it might have an added advantage of cutting down on euthanasia rates by driving down excessive breeding. I am the owner of a 153 English Mastiff from rescue and she's great with people--but she's extraordinarily alpha and will go after other dogs with no warning. As a result, I am very careful in walking her and give approaching dog walkers warning and take Maggie out of the path of an encounter. I also muzzle her when going to the vet. Somehow I doubt all dog owners take the precautions I do.
7.23.2007 4:57pm
FantasiaWHT:
John A.- that's exactly my problems with mandatory car insurance. It's a great idea but it needs to be enforced in a much more effective manner.
7.23.2007 5:04pm
Ed. (mail) (www):
Like Wade Blasingame, Attorney At Law, says -- sue the dogs!
7.23.2007 5:04pm
dafydd (mail) (www):
... a Virginia law governing dogs that have been declared dangerous by a court attacking a person.

How unfair! A court attacks a person, and then blames a dog?! What's up with that?!?!?!

(I'm surprised I'm the first one who commented on this... ;) ;)
7.23.2007 5:07pm
ras (mail):
I'm surprised I'm the first one who commented on this...

I think arthur beat you to it, Dafydd :)
7.23.2007 5:16pm
Kelvin McCabe:
How about this new Illinois Law:

§ 720 ILCS 5/12-36. Possession of certain dogs by felons prohibited: Sec. 12-36. Possession of certain dogs by felons prohibited. (a) For a period of 10 years commencing upon the release of a person from incarceration, it is unlawful for a person convicted of a forcible felony, a felony violation of the Humane Care for Animals Act [510 ILCS 70/1 et seq.], a felony violation of Article 24 of the Criminal Code of 1961 [720 ILCS 5/24-1 et seq.], a felony violation of Class 3 or higher of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act [720 ILCS 570/100 et seq.], a felony violation of Class 3 or higher of the Cannabis Control Act [720 ILCS 550/1 et seq.], or a felony violation of Class 2 or higher of the Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act 720 ILCS 646/1 et seq.], to knowingly own, possess, have custody of, or reside in a residence with, either:

(1) an unspayed or unneutered dog or puppy older than 12 weeks of age; or

(2) irrespective of whether the dog has been spayed or neutered, any dog that has been determined to be a vicious dog under Section 15 of the Animal Control Act [410 ILCS 90/15].

(b) Any dog owned, possessed by, or in the custody of a person convicted of a felony, as described in subsection (a), must be microchipped for permanent identification.

(c) Sentence. A person who violates this Section is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. (up to 364 days in jail and max $2500.00 fine)


Notice you dont have to own the dog to commit a violation (custody is enough) and notice it doesnt even try to delineate breed of dog. Beware the drug felon in possession of the dreaded chihuaha (sp)! As far as i know, this is the only statute in the country that makes unnuetered/unspayed dog ownership a jailable offense regardless of breed. (class A misdemeanor is highest category of misdemeanor in IL)
7.23.2007 5:18pm
Shake-N-Bake:
The Illinois law certainly goes very far, but frankly, people who just want a pet should be having their pets fixed - there is not a shortage of adoptable animals, to say the least, given the thousands upon thousands of animals that are euthanised just in Chicago every year (it was over 20,000 dogs and cats in 2005), to say nothing of everywhere else. Furthermore, people who have committed violent crimes or significant drug crimes are not the kind of people that are likely to be running a respectable dog breeding operation that treats the animals well.

I don't know what a 'vicious dog' is under IL law -- is it a specific finding by the relevant animal control organization, or is it a breed-based designation that just lumps all dogs like Rotts, etc into a category?
7.23.2007 5:31pm
Houston Lawyer:
I had a half Akita half German Shepherd that was hard on small animals like skunks and cats. However, he was worthless as a guard dog despite his 130 lbs because he thought that all strangers were his friends. Should he have been registered as a dangerous dog because he killed the neighbor's cat who had the bad judgement to get into our yard? I think not.

Dogs that attack people outside of their own yards should be dealt with harshly, but most dogs just need to be dealt with with common sense.
7.23.2007 5:34pm
Sean O'Hara (mail) (www):
Apparently one dog on the list is a lab who nipped someone's ankle, causing such "grievous bodily harm" that the "victim" had a bruise.


I don't see a problem. If a dog inflicted pain on me in any way, I'd be on the phone to animal control.
7.23.2007 5:44pm
Kelvin McCabe:
No, the vicious dog designation follows a set path - the dog has to attack someone first, then there has to be a hearing, then the dog can be designated vicious. There are no breed restrictions, so presumably any dog can be decalred vicious.

And im all for spaying/neutering dogs as well. But to make it a class A misdemeanor?? Cmon. Thats one rung lower than a felony and you have to have an attorney because of the real possibility of jail time (especially for people with felony backgrounds). And the statute isnt really geared towards breeding. Its custody, possession, reside with, etc... How do the cops enforce the law? Can cops know by looking at a female dog if it has been spayed?

In reality, from the words of my client who got charged with this, the Chicago PD is apparantly checking up on known gang-bangers and convicted drug dealers and if they have a dog in the yard, the police get a search warrant and go through the whole house - ostensibly looking for proof of AKS (american kennel society membership and proof of spaying,nuetering, etc...) papers, but in reality, looking for drugs and guns. If they dont find the latter, they charge on the former.

I filed a motion to have this statute declared unconstitutional on various grounds, and the State dropped this charge. So its still good law. For now.
7.23.2007 5:51pm
Shinobi (mail) (www):
I dislike breed specific legislation because it frequently results in more dogs (like Pit Bulls) being put down.

I find it particularly repulsive because these dogs are nothing but what humans made them. Pitt bulls were bred to be fighting dogs by our ancestors, and now people are breeding more agression and more bad traits into the different bully breeds. How is this the dog's fault?

It is humans who have made these dogs what they are, we should not punish them for our actions.
7.23.2007 5:53pm
bittern (mail):
Malaria parasites are nothing worse than what Darwinian selection made them out to be. Is it their fault they hurt people?

Whether or not you think quinine and its successors "punishes" the protozoan, it is sensible enough for people to decide to do their best to get rid of the little suckers.
7.23.2007 6:25pm
guest pittbull owner:
I have a pitbull who has gotten into a fight with another dog, and I was turned down by one company for homeowners' insurance because of this. He is-- as I think all adult bully breed dogs should be assumed to be-- potentially unsafe around strange dogs. On the other hand, he is absolutely not human aggressive, possessive, or territorial. An intruder could smack him a few times before stealing his bone, and my dog would almost certainly sit patiently hoping to get his bone back. This is typical of pitbulls--bred to fight, but notoriously poor watch dogs since their human aggression was systematically bred out.
I'm not averse to all breed-specific laws. I think adult bully breeds should absolutely be banned from dog parks and should never be off leash in public. I hope to take full responsibility for my dog, but I'm not convinced that we can assume private insurance would even approximate actuarial fairness: a theory that assumes perfect markets might be suspect, but one that assumes perfect markets in insurance is doubly so.
If responsible pitbull owners, unable to find affordable insurance, could not maintain ownership of their dogs, would they be expected to put them down? I doubt this would happen as a rule, and I wonder whether the proposed policy would simply shift ownership to those who would elude enforcement.
I'm also suspicious of breed-specific quick fixes because bite statistics mirror the tough-dog flavor of the day. Until a few decades ago, pitbull incidents were almost unheard of; it was only when the tough-dog image shifted from Dobermans and German Shepherds that irresponsible owners opted for pits and pitbull incidents appeared on the radar screen. If breed-specific legislation is not entirely ineffective, it seems likely to simply shift the choices of irresponsible owners: woops, the legislators forgot about Dogos.
One possible solution would be to discriminate based on whether the dog is fixed or not. (Mine is, of course, fixed, and I've noticed that having a fixed pit essentially detracts from whatever "street cred" I might have had.) Fixing is readily observable and readily implementable-- and it both directly decreases aggression and serves as a signal that the owner hopes to be responsible.
7.23.2007 6:42pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
Litigator:

The Pomeranian wins the prize for smallest dog to inflict fatal wounds. A toddler (crawler?) got too close to the pom's food ball, was mauled and died as a result. Otherwise, I agree with you.
7.23.2007 6:50pm
neurodoc:
I'm surprised that no one has alluded to that San Francisco case, when a woman lacrosse coach was attacked and killed by a neighbor's pair of dogs as she was entering her apartment. There was great outrage and the owners, one of them an attorney, were criminally prosecuted.
7.23.2007 6:57pm
guest pitbull owner:
As I recall, the SF case involved a dogo (or something essentially identical, a Presa Canario?). Would this have been covered by breed-specific legislation?
7.23.2007 7:04pm
Bozoer Rebbe (mail) (www):
Yes, there are aggressive breeds. I've seen a toy Doberman display classic doberman aggression to our greyhound, which is at least 10 times the body weight. Actually I think Annie was a bit amused at the display since she could have easily killed the little dobe. Greyhounds may not be very aggressive, but they are born hunters and will instinctively do a neck snapping head shake once they get something in their jaws.

The dog genome is pretty well documented at this point and we know where the gene for aggression is as well as genes for timidity and companionability. Some breeds, like Akitas and Chows, along with modern pit bulls and rottweilers, are exceptionally aggressive, and as thug/gangsta/prison culture has entered the mainstream, dope dealers and others have bred for even more aggression, including crossbreeding with wolves and wolf/dog crosses. Whereas a rottweiler in the 1960s may have been a muscular dog capable of guard training, the breed wasn't nearly as aggressive as it is today. They've been bred for aggression and strength. The same goes with pit bulls and related breeds. Go ahead and compare contemporary pit bulls with "America's Dog in WWI". It's like comparing Barry Bonds with Ray Oyler. Modern pit bulls have significantly larger jaws (and related musculature), as well as much more muscular bodies, particularly in the shoulders and forelegs, than previous iterations of pit bulls.

That being said, because of crossbreeding it's impossible to prohibit specific breeds. Make legal penalties contingent on violent animal behavior and sock it to the owners. After the first documented attack by the dog I think the owners can be guilty of depraved indifference.
7.23.2007 7:04pm
TruePath (mail) (www):
The problem with dangerous dog legislation is the same as the problem with assault weapon legislation or drug laws for that matter. The laws are passed more on hype than on true harm minimization. I am not aware of much evidence showing that Rotweillers are essentially more dangerous viscious dogs than golden retrievers (the rotweillers I've seen raised like goldens acted like goldens...friendly but liable to jump on you and lick your face). However, once a dog gets a reputation as a guard dog or just looks mean people who want mean vicious dogs will buy them. Having only 'dangerous' dog owners purchase insurance is almost as bad because we are still unfairly singling out a group for no justified reason.

So yah make all dog owners purchase insurance. If insurance isn't enforceable then dangerous dog legislation probably isn't either.
7.23.2007 7:05pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
The problem with breed specific legislation is that they can never end. The main reason there are vicious dogs is because a significant portion of the population wants them. If you ban certain breeds, it would only take a few generations to convert some breed to fit the requirements. With a decent program, you could probably turn a strain of golden retrievers into a fairly reliable "aggressive" breed in about 5-6 years. If you ban some breeds, the people who want vicious dogs will simply make them out of other breeds.

Here in Houston, approximately 30% of the car owners are uninsured. It's alot easier to regulate cars than dogs. I have no idea what portion of the dog population has not had its shots, but I bet you its pretty high. And shots are cheap. I'm also willing to bet that the people who buy pit bulls because they are mean and tough are not likely to comply with the insurance requirements. So, even if I thought it was a good idea in theory (and I don't), I doubt it could ever work.

Dog bite mortality is vastly overblown in my opinion. There are about 30 fatalities a year from dog bites. Compare that with 330 people a year who drown in their bathtubs, or the 45 people a year who are killed by lightning.
7.23.2007 7:14pm
Ron Hardin (mail) (www):
A Pit Bull owner can't get liability insurance not because his dog is vicious (it's not), but because any jury award will be enormous, because all the jurors know that the breed is vicious, thanks to the papers, and so the likelihood of a large award is great, and the premiums have to track that, justified or not.

Pit Bulls are dog-aggressive by virtue of being terriers, not by virtue of being Pit Bulls. They're looking for a worthy opponent. It's apparently bred in to get a quality called gameness, which makes a wonderful dog but you have to watch them around other dogs. That the dogs like fighting other dogs is a fact that is unsatisfactory to dog lovers, but also gives the dog its character for them. You just have to avoid letting them get into dog fights, or make it a rule : no fighting, just like no peeing on the sofa. They are not human aggressive.

I think the most bitey breed is the Cocker Spaniel, in fact. That you have to go the hospital for a tetanus shot is a problem in the medical profession, not a dog problem.
7.23.2007 7:19pm
Ron Hardin (mail) (www):
Spaying and neutering : there's no dog overpopulation. If you rounded up chipmunks and put them all in once place, you'd get a chipmunk overpopulation problem. Who will care for them all? And adopting out chipmunks is not able to keep pace!

Stop rounding up loose dogs and the so-called overpopulation will disappear, in other words.

In the old days, and it worked fine, stray dogs did their stuff and got themselves adopted if they did it right; and only problem dogs were rounded up and off'd. There were neighborhood dogs, and the kids (kids were let outside then) would play with them, and the dogs guarded the neighborhood, knew who belonged and who didn't. Just as Plato said, in The Republic, would happen in the Just City.

Like medical insurance, every proposed solution to this generated problem makes the problem worse.

Stop rounding up dogs. A loose dog is not an emergency. Think chipmunks.
7.23.2007 7:29pm
bittern (mail):
Dog bite mortality is vastly overblown in my opinion. There are about 30 fatalities a year from dog bites. Compare that with 330 people a year who drown in their bathtubs, or the 45 people a year who are killed by lightning.

That you have to go the hospital for a tetanus shot is a problem in the medical profession, not a dog problem.

It's MY problem that your dog bites me? Nice attitude. Thanks. Lookit all the people afraid of lightning storms. I didn't die from getting bit by an aggressive dog, but I still wasn't happy about it. Not a dog problem, though. I'll have to try to remember it that way.
7.23.2007 7:33pm
Ron Hardin (mail) (www):
I remember the dog bite fatality count for the US at 12 per year, in the 80s. And you heard about every one in the papers.

That's in hit-by-asteroid territory, riskwise. But it makes great news copy.
7.23.2007 7:33pm
Ron Hardin (mail) (www):
Going to the hospital for a tetanus shot is the reason for the hospital visit required after a bite. It's not an indication of any seriousness, as if these were all reconstructive surgery cases. A doctor or a county health department could as easily do it.

The rusty nail menace is not mentioned.

I don't like aggressive dogs either, by the way. But you deal with them by calling the dog catcher, not legislation, like always. I think around here the dog catcher gives them a warning, and they get two or three, and then the dog gets taken away, assuming it's licensed (if not, it got taken away the first time).

Notice how nicely targeted that is to the problem! That's old law. The modern way is mandatory insurance for all dog owners, and laywer types think it's neat.

(Incidentally, I was reading the Ohio Revised Code long ago, so it may have changed, but I noticed a provision that no dog shall be deemed vicious that bites while being tormented. I suppose this was put in by some legislator who actually understood adolescent males and dogs. It would be very surprising to see it get in law today.)
7.23.2007 7:45pm
ArtEclectic (mail):
Houston Lawyer, if I had been your neighbor with the dead cat, you can be sure your dog would not have survived much long after.....
7.23.2007 10:25pm
Inspector Callahan (mail):
Nice threat, ArtEclectic.

This thread is a microcosm of the emotional tizzy that the whole "dangerous breed" news media spin has caused. People go off half-cocked, not knowing about dogs or their breeds, just soaking in the media's BS like it was the gospel according to Matthew. The fact is that the media sell these stories because they get them more viewers/readers/etc. If the Michael Vick incident isn't proof of that, I don't know what is.

In every one of these dog attack incidents everyone keeps referring to, it's some inner-city gang-banger's dog, or some toothless rednecks who shouldn't even reproduce, let alone have a dog. When you see some clean-cut, middle to upper-middle class family's dog kill another human being, come get me and I'll eat crow. Until then, it's just emotion over logic. But in this country, I guess that's the norm.

TV (Harry)
7.24.2007 12:36am
Duffy Pratt (mail):
As far as I know, there are no gang-bangers or toothless rednecks involved in these stories. Of course, since you know so much about dogs and their breeds, you already knew about these...

5-Week Old Mauled By A Dog 9/04

JACKSONVILLE, FL -- A 5-week-old boy is dead after being mauled by a dog.The attack happened at a home off Jade Drive on the Westside Tuesday afternoon. Authorities say a man and a woman rushed the young boy, identified as Jose Diaz, to a nearby fire station asking for help. Firefighters tried CPR on the little boy until Trauma One arrived to take the baby to Shands Jacksonville. The boy did not survive.

Grandfather Frank Michno says the dog who attacked his grandson had been with the family for more than 12 years. "Oh, I'm very angry with Chance. I can't understand what would have gone through his mind." Michno says his plans are to euthanize his dog if the courts don't already order it.

In the mean time the family is just trying to cope with the loss. "It's like a bad dream, I don't know what else we're going to do," Michno said. First Coast News anchor Mark Spain says investigators believe the baby's grandmother and mother were in the house at the time of the attack. Family members say the child's parents were dropping the child off at his grandparents for the day. The grandmother left the room for only a moment. "A split second was all it took and it was done and gone," Michno said.

There are three dogs at the home. Animal Control officers took the dogs away. Two of the dogs are mixed, the third is a terrier. Investigators are trying to determine which dog attacked the baby. Once that is determined, the dog will be labeled as "dangerous", and that could lead to it being put to sleep.


The tri colored Rottweiler/Labrador mix is the animal thought to have attacked the baby.

Terrified neighbours see Bullmastiff kill owner 08/04
A 39-year-old woman was savaged to death by her pet bull mastiff dog yesterday.

Terrified elderly neighbours could only look on as the fatal attack, which started inside Carol Leeanne Taylor's home in the Dunedin suburb of Caversham, spilled on to the back lawn. Blood and upturned furniture in the lounge told a gory story. Neighbour Melva Dixon told how she watched helplessly as Mrs Taylor fought for her life.

Mrs Dixon, 72, said she saw Mrs Taylor trying to fight the dog off while sitting on the ground in the back yard of her home. Blood was coming from a bite on her arm. Mrs Dixon stayed behind a solid gate blocking access to the back yard and called out to Mrs Taylor, but was answered only by screams.

"I said to her 'do you want the ambulance?' I could not understand what she was saying, because there was only screams and yells. "With that the dog rushed over to the gate and left her on the ground." Mrs Dixon was alerted to the horror when she heard high-pitched squealing noises "like a cat" coming from next door about 3.50pm. She peeked over a fence separating the two houses and could see the dog with "something on the ground". "I had thoughts of taking the broom or something, but I started to panic and I just went around to the side gate of the house empty-handed."

Mrs Dixon said she was afraid to open the gate to try to intervene for fear of being attacked herself. When she yelled out, and the dog rushed to the gate, Ms Taylor remained sitting on the ground. Mrs Dixon rushed to another house and called emergency services. By the time she returned to the gate Ms Taylor was lying in a gathering pool of blood. Other neighbours had also gathered, but could do nothing.

Senior Sergeant Phil McDouall said the attack started inside Ms Taylor's house. "There was a confrontation in the lounge, then the dog has dragged her outside and the attack has continued," he said. "The ferocity of the attack meant neighbours weren't able to get in to help for fear of their own safety." Ms Taylor, a sickness beneficiary, received major head and upper body injuries from the attack, which took place about 4pm. On hearing screams, neighbours called emergency services. Ms Taylor was still alive when police arrived, but she died within minutes.

The tan bull mastiff is thought to have released her on its own accord and was wandering around the back yard in an "agitated" state when police arrived, Mr McDouall said. It was destroyed by police. "It was still growling and wandering around very agitated while we were trying to resuscitate the owner."

Police did not know what had prompted the attack. Mr McDouall said the Dunedin City Council animal control team had been called to the address after a neighbour complained of the dog's barking. One neighbour said Ms Taylor had considered getting it destroyed because she was afraid of it. Pauleen Tangimetua said the dog frightened Ms Taylor so much that she had called animal control herself for help. Ms Taylor called dog control to the house in June when she could not stop the dog ripping her clothes, but withdrew consent for it to be taken to the pound.

Victim Support was at the scene yesterday supporting neighbours. Police asked reporters not to approach an 88-year-old man who saw the attack and was severely shaken by what he had seen. Ms Taylor's body was removed at 5.30pm and Mr McDouall said inquiries would continue on behalf of the coroner. Dominion bull mastiff club secretary Simone Mearns, of Auckland, was last night dismayed a "gentle and friendly" breed was linked to the death.

Toddler Wanders Into Yard, Face Mauled by Chained German Shepherd Dog
August 1, 2004, SPANIARD'S BAY, Nfld. -- A dog attack that took just seconds has left a Newfoundland toddler in hospital with facial wounds his mother fears he may never fully recover from. Two-year-old Johnathan Mahoney-Marsh remained in hospital this weekend in St. John's after a stomach-turning incident Tuesday night. The boy and his brother were being cared for by a babysitter who took the children with her to her brother's home.

While there, the youngsters wandered out of the caregiver's sight, and Johnathan strayed within reach of a German shepherd that was chained up in a neighbour's yard. "I got the call at work to go and meet them at the Carbonear hospital," the boy's mother, Sonya Mahoney-Marsh, said from her home in Spaniard's Bay. "When I got there and met with him, I was beside myself -- the only thing keeping his face together was a face cloth."

She said the right side of Johnathan's face has stitches on his mouth, cheek, below his ear, on his forehead and on his temple. His mother also said Johnathan has bruising on his back, and his nails are blackened from scratching the pavement while trying to escape the dog's reach. "I'd trade places with him (in) a heartbeat," she said.

RCMP Const. Steve Blackmore said because the dog was tethered on private property the animal's owners aren't facing charges. However, he said they've voluntarily agreed to put down their pet. "The owners did the right thing by having the dog tied on, but the problem really is that a child can wander and get within the dog's reach," Blackmore said.

Mahoney-Marsh, a single mother of three boys, said she's not able to spend as much time with her boy in hospital as she'd like. "I can't stay in there because I've got two other kids, which is tearing the guts out of me," Mahoney-Marsh said. "I'm calling around the clock to see how he is."

Johnathan is in satisfactory condition and is expected to leave hospital by Monday. But his mother fears the damage may stretch beyond the remedy of cosmetic surgery. "They said within a couple of years we could go back and see about plastic surgery, but it's a mortal sin," she said. The major obstacle facing Johnathan right now, his mother said, is the infection from his wounds. She said doctors told her they may have to reopen his wounds to drain infection and then restitch the cuts to prevent further complications.

Dog Owner Stunned by Vicious Akita Attack 06/04
EARL, N.C. -- A 7-year-old Cleveland County boy is in critical condition after a neighbor's dog attacked him Thursday morning. Paramedics had to airlift Brandon Ivie from his home near Earl to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.

Around 8:45 a.m., Ivie was playing with his neighbor's dog, which was on a chain. Ivie's mother said her son got too close and that the dog grabbed him around the neck with its teeth. She said she was also bitten when she tried to free her son from the dog's grasp. The dog latched on to Brandon Ivie's throat and would not let go. CMC officials said Ivie had lost a large amount of blood by the time he arrived at the hospital.

The dog, a 6-year-old Akita named Boo Boo, is owned by the Adaway family. The Adaways said they were shocked when Boo Boo attacked. Kimberly Adaway said she usually keeps Boo Boo on the running line near their trampoline. Thursday morning, screams coming from that part of the yard brought her running. When Adaway reached Boo Boo, she found him with his jaws locked down around the boy's throat. "He had latched onto his neck from the back," she said. Adaway hit her dog until he loosened his grip, and Ivie's mother pulled her son away.

Kimberly Adaway said she will be more cautious about other people approaching her dogs. Ivie's playmates filled in the details of the attack. Ivie "was running toward the dog and slid and hit the dog," Adaway was told. "And the dog bit him." Adaway said she has seen Ivie play with Boo Boo before and even hug him. Boo Boo "loves kids and anyone who comes toward him," she said. "I'm assuming he was scared of him."

The Adaways, who have four dogs, said they did a lot of research on Akitas when they got one. They even got a book from the Cleveland County Public Library that said Akitas make perfect baby sitters because they are so good and gentle with children. "He's a good dog," Adaway said.

The Cleveland County Animal Control Bureau said the Adaways did not violate any laws because the dog was leashed and had all of his vaccinations. But the public health director has declared Boo Boo a dangerous dog, which means he will have to live out the rest of his life in a more secure enclosure. Boo Boo will be quarantined at a veterinarian's office for 10 days as a precaution. The Adaways will have to purchase $100,000 of liability insurance if they plan to keep the dog.

Adaway said she does not have any concerns for the safety of her children when they are around Boo Boo. But she said she will be more cautious in the future. "I don't want anyone near my dogs anyway, because you don't know what could happen," she said.

Fatal dog mauling may bring no charges 02/04
LIHUE, Kauai police detectives and prosecutors were scheduled to meet today to decide whether criminal charges should be filed against a Moloaa man whose dog fatally injured a 17-month-old boy on Saturday.

"So far, I don't think we see anything criminal," acting Police Chief Willie Ihu said late yesterday. The parents of Trusten Heart Liddle issued a statement through their attorney, Susan Marshall, asking for privacy and time to heal. "We request peace and quiet while we mourn the death of our cherished loved one," wrote Dove and Raven Liddle. "We appreciate your prayers. Our only request is for people to light a candle in memory of Trusten at sunset."

The dog, which belongs to a neighbor who has not been identified by police, was on a chain anchored on the neighbor's property. There are conflicting accounts whether Trusten wandered on to the neighbor's property or whether the chain was long enough to allow the dog on to his parents' farm.

"That's part of the investigation: how long was the chain and did it end on the owner's property?" Ihu said. Trusten died in the emergency room at Wilcox Memorial Hospital. He had suffered extensive head, throat and chest wounds, Kauai police said. His parents' statement said: "Trusten did not wander onto the neighbor's property." But Marshall would not say whether the child was attacked on the Liddle's property.

There is no fence between the two farms. Moloaa, which is on Kauai's northeast shore, is a rugged area containing numerous small farms, most secluded from public roads. The dog was taken to the Kauai Humane Society, where it is being held. Dr. Becky Rhoades, the veterinarian who is the shelter's executive director, said she does not know if the dog has a name and she had not heard from its owner as of yesterday.

She said the dog appears to be a Labrador-Basset hound mix, with a long body and short legs. "He's still very stressed but he's not hard to handle. He hasn't been aggressive at all," Rhoades said. Rhoades said dogs who are chained for a long period of time can become very territorial about the area within the radius of the chain and attack anyone who comes within their territory. The fate of the dog will be decided either by the owner or a judge, she said. Many dogs involved in serious attacks have been euthanized but that is not her decision to make, Rhoades said.

Akitas attacking in Edmonton, Canada 08/03
EDMONTON - Two of three Edmonton-area Akita dogs involved in vicious attacks in August will have been destroyed by the end of the week. The other is in quarantine.

Parkland County officials said they would kill an Akita on Friday that savagely bit a two-year-old this month. The dog lunged at the boy's head, nearly killing him and causing wounds that took 600 stitches to close. Another Akita was destroyed on Monday. That dog had attacked three children on three separate occasions, most recently a five-year-old this month.

Over the weekend, a 16-year-old girl was bitten in the face by an Akita while selling chocolate bars door to door. That dog is on a 10-day quarantine. The girl hasn't filed a complaint about the incident, so no formal investigation has been launched.

Four year old killed by Rottweilers. 03/03
KINGSTON PENINSULA, N.B. - Friends and relatives of a child killed on the weekend by three Rottweilers say they don't know how the boy got out of the house, or why the dogs attacked.

Four-year-old James Waddell, known as "little Jim," was mauled to death Saturday night in the yard of his home in Kingston Peninsula. It's about 30 kilometres north of Saint John. The boy's uncle, Steve Waddell, said the boy was left alone watching cartoons while the father and the dog's owner checked on an electrician in the basement. The dogs had been moved outside and the door was closed.

Minutes later they heard the dogs barking and checked the yard, said Waddell. Jim had been dragged from the front to the back yard, and was dead by the time they reached him. The boy's father, Ron, is not talking to the media. The three Rottweilers, and another living in the house, were euthanized at the request of the owner, who also lived in the house.

Police say the attack was so savage they've brought in grief counsellors for their staff and emergency crews.

No charges have been laid in the case as police wait for autopsy results from the boy and the dogs.

A burial will take place in Moss Glen, N.B., on Tuesday.

"Wolf Hybrid" Kills Child 06/02
A Ballard County woman whose dog fatally attacked a 5-year-old boy in June 2002 has pleaded guilty to a felony count of reckless homicide. Ballard Commonwealth's Attorney Tim Langford said the plea agreement reached this week calls for a two-year prison term for Latasha Laster. Laster, 22, will be sentenced March 5.

Laster's attorney, Gorman D. Bradley of Paducah, said his client was "very remorseful" about the attack, but added that she would seek probation. He said Laster, who remains free on bond, wanted to get the incident behind her and resume taking college classes.

The dog, described by authorities as a wolf hybrid, mauled T.J. Adams of Benton, who was visiting his grandmother next to Laster's home in Wickliffe. The boy died of his injuries at Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville. Laster's defense disputed the dog's pedigree.

Witnesses said the dog, which was attached to a long chain at the time, attacked the boy in his grandmother's yard and then dragged him into Laster's yard. A Ballard County grand jury indicted Laster on charges of harboring a vicious animal, wanton endangerment and second-degree manslaughter. Langford said the first two charges were dismissed and the manslaughter charge was amended to reckless homicide. He said the boy's family agreed to the plea bargain.

Police shot the 70-pound dog after the attack.

Langford said a prosecution witness was prepared to testify based on a tissue analysis that the dog was a wolf hybrid, a breed of dog that has been blamed for dozens of attacks on people. Some states and cities have enacted laws requiring owners to control or confine such dogs, which can resemble a Husky or Malamute in appearance, but Kentucky does not have such a law. Laster told investigators she found the dog as a stray and did not know it was dangerous. Police said there had been no prior problems with the dog.

Statewide, felony prosecutions against dog owners are rare because fatal attacks are rare, said Gale Cook of Murray, president of the state prosecutors' association. She said she can't recall any felony prosecutions other than the Ballard County case.

Toddler recovers from dog attack 06/01
SYDNEY, N.S. - A toddler is recovering in hospital after a dog attacked her at a Cape Breton campground during the weekend. The 18-month-old girl tried to pet a stray dog Sunday afternoon at the Black Rock campground in Boularderie.

The dog bit her several times on the face. RCMP say the girl suffered large lacerations and required surgery. Police seized a dog described as a German Shepard mix.

Police searching for dog owner after attack 12/00
FREDERICTON, N.B. - An elderly Fredericton woman is recovering from surgery after a dog attacked her on a local walking trail. The incident happened Friday but police are still trying to find the dog and its owner.

Lorna Smith, 70, is nursing a serious wound. She says a large black dog chewed through her jacket and took a piece of flesh off her forearm. "With no warning he just took off like a bolt and grabbed me by the arm." "He had torn away quite a bit of flesh and I had to get plastic surgery at the hospital," she says.

The attack happened during a leisurely walk along the Fredericton train bridge. The last thing Smith says she remembers is seeing a man who appeared to be in his 50s, with two dogs and a bicycle. "He said, 'don't worry about the dogs they're friendly,' and as I continued to walk by, this dog started to wonder towards me," she says. "With no warning he just took off like a bolt and grabbed me by the arm and that was it." She says she ran back to her car and drove herself to the hospital.

Smith says she was planning on going south next week on a golf vacation. But now she says her arm is in too much pain to move and she can't even swing a club. Dow Phillips, an animal control officer with the city of Fredericton, says investigators want to find the owner of the dogs. "We're looking for the individual with the two dogs so we can prevent something like this from happening again" he says.


Bullmastiff Kills 8 year old girl. 05/99
STOUFFVILLE - An Ontario jury is calling for much tougher laws governing vicious dog attacks. The jury is part of a coroner's inquest looking into the death of eight year old Courtney Trempe. The Stoufville girl was mauled to death last spring. A death it called accidental.

"If you want to call that an accident, that's an awful accident," says John Trempe, Courtney's father. On April 27th, 1998, Courtney Trempe was at a neighbour's house in Stouffville, playing in the back yard with friends. That's when the neighbour's dog - a 60 kilogram bull mastiff - attacked. The dog pierced her carotid artery and crushed her windpipe. She died from her injuries. The dog was destroyed.

The Trempe's say the dog had a history of attacking people. They hired a private investigator who found witnesses to back up their theory, witnesses they say the police should have found. They wanted the jury to find that their daughter's death was by homicide - a ruling that would be purely symbolic, because coroner's inquests can't assign blame. Today the jury made 35 recommendations, including new laws forcing dog owners to "take more effective control" of problem animals, and allowing the courts to order potentially dangerous dogs destroyed.

It wants fines for irresponsible dog owners substantially increased and they say those people should be prohibited from owning another dog for a specified period of time. Jurors also want a ban on trained guard or attack dogs, except for police or security agencies and they want a province-wide database to track problem dogs.

Husky dogs blamed for boy's death 12/98
CROSS LAKE, MANITOBA - RCMP are investigating the death of an 8-year-old boy in Cross Lake in northern Manitoba. Police say the boy was attacked by dogs late monday night.

Some residents heard a noise which they thought was dogs fighting. When they went to chase the dogs away they found the child lying in the snow. He was pronounced dead a short time later at the Cross Lake nursing station. Police say a number of dogs in the community have been destroyed at the request of the band council. An autopsy will be done at Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre.
7.24.2007 1:10am
subpatre (mail):
Duffy Pratt : Twelve incidents —tragic events to be sure— worldwide from the last 8 years doesn't make a case for legislation. OK, these were culled from only the English-speaking world.
7.24.2007 1:47am
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
Some of those cases show some real ignorance. I thought everyone knew you weren't supposed to leave dogs and small children together unattended.
7.24.2007 2:41am
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
ArtEclectic-

Houston Lawyer, if I had been your neighbor with the dead cat, you can be sure your dog would not have survived much long after.....

Do you know how devastating outside cats are to wildlife? They kill small birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians even when they are well fed.

Maybe we should sick some tree-huggers on you to, I don't know, patchouli or birkenstock you.
7.24.2007 2:46am
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
I agree with the anti-legislation sentiment, this is more creeping nanny-statism. I'm sure the insurance industry would love a government mandated handout.

And there should definitely be "anti-tormenting" clauses in existing laws for morons who should know better who can't leave other living things alone.

As far as mandatory fixing goes I disagree with that too. If you're a responsible dog owner that eventually wants to breed your dog or doesn't want to subject them to that physiologically you should be left alone.
7.24.2007 2:59am
Triet (mail) (www):
My wife works for the Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care in Houston, TX. Houston requires 100K insurance on any animal, regardless of breed, deemed "dangerous." An animal is deemed dangerous if it's had one previous bite incident.

I suggested the city of Houston institute a dog registry about 6 months ago, and it's currently being mulled over by the city legal counsel. Perhaps this will help it come into place.

I support a registry for a couple of reasons:

1. I've seen from personal experience and read in the comments above that some people feel vehemently that certain dog breeds should be banned. A great number of others are incredibly opposed to the first group. This wide chasm is not easily or soon closed. A registry is a compromise.

2. My wife, who does rabies public policy and statistics for the bureau, remarked yesterday about how many people just report "mutt" when describing a dog. Because "mutt" isn't a breed, they are asked to be specific and the usual response is "pit bull" although most turn out not to be such. This shows how sketchy breed reporting is, and how hard it would be to nail down one or two "dangerous breeds."

3. As a new home owner, I DEFINITELY would have looked at a dangerous dog registry, had one been available when I was house-hunting. I live in a condo complex (not highrise) in the city. My wife is pregnant with our first child, and I don't have a backyard for my future child to play in safely. Knowing whose dogs to stay away from, and where they were, would help.

4. A registry website is quite easy to maintain, the forms are easy to make, and violations could be fined and administered by animal care officers during their normal daily routines. This would provide another stream of revenue for a horribly cash-strapped department without undue strain on the officers--and that money turns into more quality adoptions and less strays on the streets.

5. Finally, if a registry makes it so my wife has to go to the hospital and console the parents of a mauled 5 year old one less time per year, it's worth it.
7.24.2007 3:47am
Joe Johnson:
This thread is a microcosm of the emotional tizzy that the whole "dangerous breed" news media spin has caused. People go off half-cocked, not knowing about dogs or their breeds ....

This is the most insightful thing I have read on the entire string. It is clear that many of the people commenting are not familiar with the breeds
they are writing about. How about the reference above to "a toy Doberman display[ing] classic doberman aggression"? Please.

First, Dobermans are generally docile by nature, good with children, and friendly with other dogs. They are also highly intelligent, strong, and easy to train, so they are often used as guard dogs or put in movies when the script calls for an "aggressive" dog. This does not make them aggressive or vicious -- it makes them good policemen and good actors.

Second, Mini-Pins are not actually "Miniature Dobermans" at all. They are a much older breed and only look similar because they share a common genetic relation to the Pinscher. Dobermans are a recent, man-made breed derived from mixing Pinschers with at least 10 other breeds, including the Rottweiler, Greyhound, Great Dane, Weimaraner, terriers, and various types of Shepherds. The notion that a Mini-Pin showed "classic Doberman" behavior of any kind is untenable.

I do not, by the way, own a Doberman or particularly care for that breed. There are dozens of misconceptions and inaccuracies above, and I don't have time to respond to them all, but this one begged for a reply. The comment was spit out so casually, almost as if we should take it for granted ... yet it has little (if any) basis in fact. Much of the "dangerous breed" hysteria comes from such assumptions.
7.24.2007 4:30am
Ron Hardin (mail) (www):
My Doberman Vicki, taken July 9 , one year old, if you can read dogs. She's on a sit stay while I take her picture, on the evening walk.
7.24.2007 9:46am
Duffy Pratt (mail):
Joe Johnson:

You described Dobermans as a recent, man-made breed. Wouldn't that fairly well describe almost all recognized dog breeds? I know that some people claim that their breeds are "ancient," but its almost always false.
7.24.2007 11:16am
David C. (www):
most insurance companies that will cover all dog breeds (some exclude coverage for certain breeds) have the one bite rule - they cover the first time your dog bites, but then you have to get rid of the dog - otherwise, no coverage. Any dog that has bitten a person once is considered to be un insurable.
7.24.2007 1:34pm
Joe Johnson:
Duffy,

Yes, most breeds are recent and man-made. I only pointed that out to show the distinction between Mini-Pins and Dobermans, because the person I was responding to clearly equated the two as if Mini-Pins were simply smaller versions of the Doberman. The mere fact that they look alike does not mean that one is simply a pint-sized version of the other, or that they would have some genetically-based temperament in common.
7.24.2007 8:25pm