A proposed bill introduced in the New Jersey state assembly could save Congo’s life.
There has been nationwide attention over Congo, a German Shepherd, that was ordered to be put down after attacking a landscaper on his owner’s property. Congo’s owners said that their dog was simply protecting his family, but the municipal prosecutor said the attack was unprovoked. A municipal court judge ruled that Congo was dangerous and should be put down, but Congo’s family appealed the decision to the Superior Court, and they are awaiting Congo’s fate.
Last week, New Jersey Assemblyman Neil Cohen introduced a bill called Congo’s Law [A4597] that could possibly save this dog’s life. Cohen believes current laws in regards to dangerous dogs are outdated and unfair.
Some of the provisions in the proposed law will include a definition of provocation that will take into account the dog’s point of view which includes “causing or inciting a dog to defend itself, its offspring, or its owner or a family member of its owner, by engaging in threatening actions or behavior” such as â€œentering property without the presence, permission, or direction of the ownerâ€. In addition, a dog would need to be found vicious “beyond a reasonable doubt”.
Dogs would also be allowed to return to their owners while their cases are being decided if owners comply with the conditions for â€œpotentially dangerousâ€ dogs.
The proposed bill would provide an alternative for euthanizing dogs declared â€œviciousâ€ by allowing their owners to comply with the same precautions mandated for keeping a â€œpotentially dangerousâ€ dog.
If the law is passed, it would apply to current and pending cases and retroactively to dogs facing euthanasia by court orders back to January 1, 2007, including Congo.
Cohen said, “The nature of a dog is to protect those around them. Self-defense and the defense of others is a justification for human violence, and dogs should have the same protection. Congo’s situation points up the need to modernize the law and make it fair to the owners and the animals.”
(Thanks Sharon and Lynn)