A new Texas dog bite law went into effect on September 1. Pet owners will face felony charges if their dogs seriously injure or kill someone and could go to prison.
The new law came after the fatal mauling of a 76-year-old Central Texas woman.
Under the new law, the owner of a dangerous dog can still face misdemeanor charges if the animal injures someone. That same owner now can be on the hook for a felony and prison time if the victim dies or suffers wounds requiring hospitalization.
Eliminating the so-called free-bite defense, a dog’s first attack can be a felony offense â€“ if the injuries are fatal or severe enough and if prosecutors prove the owner’s criminal negligence in not securing the animal.
Officials said this adds some sting to laws that are difficult to enforce, easy to disregard and that usually punish the dogs instead of their owners who are responsible for them.
Supporters of the new law hope this will catch a pet owner’s attention and decrease the number and severity of attacks by having harsher penalties.
It is still unclear what kind of impact this new law will have on animal bites. Despite this, animal control officers still support this new law as a possible solution to a horrible problem.
“Any tool we can get to protect our citizens is vital,” said Keane Menefee, Fort Worth’s director of animal care and control.
Dogs owners who are irresponsible and allow their dogs to run free are the problem, said animal control officers.
Experts said this new law in Texas will be one of the toughest in the nation.
Source: Dallas Morning News