Thursday, May 17, 2007

Owners of bad dogs to have their day - in court

Bad dogs usually have bad owners.

No, this is not true of all dog owners. But much like the parents of incorrigible kids, it's rare that the source of the trouble doesn't start with the supposed authority figure in the home.

Seeking to finally put some teeth - pun intended - into laws that seek to punish those owners, the Texas Senate today approved a bill that could send the owners of dogs that violently attack people to prison for up to 20 years.

It's about time.

I have little patience for those who would own a dog with the capacity to harm others. Several times a year I read stories of people, often young children and the elderly, whose lives meet gruesome ends because they were attacked by violent dogs. For example, the bill passed in the Texas Senate was called Lillian's Law in honor of Lillian Stiles.

Stiles, 76, was attacked and killed by a neighbor's dogs in the front yard of her Thorndale home (about 40 miles northeast of Austin) after getting off her riding lawn mower in November 2005. A Milam County jury acquitted dog owner Jose Hernandez last month of criminally negligent homicide in Stiles' death. Ugh.

Like those who own guns, people who choose to keep those sort of animals should be charged with the responsibility of making sure their dogs don't hurt others. And if those dogs somehow do hurt someone, they should be punished to the full extent of the law.

So, I'm glad to see Texas added a little more bite to its laws targeting the owners of vicious dogs. It was long overdue.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hopefully they'll take each incident into consideration individually. I'd hate to see someone get 20 years for their dog attacking someone who was provoking the dog. Yes, I'm a dog lover.