Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pushing for Vicious Dog Law Changes

We have now settled our case with the Bad Dog Owner. That particular chapter of our lives is concluded.

We are now in the process of working to change the "vicious dog" laws in Austin. Under the current ordinance, unless a dog attacks someone three (documented) times, kills or permanently maims your dog, or sends someone to the hospital, the dog is not considered vicious. So, if you are attacked by a dog that, say, previously killed their neighbors dog, you are out of luck as far as the city of Austin and the state of Texas are concerned.

This is, quite frankly, utter crap. If I come at you with a knife or a gun and I injure you, chances are I will spend a considerable amount of time in jail. But if I release a 50-lb pit bull from a leash and it rips your hand open, you might get your medical expenses covered if you sue me, but there will be no penalty other than that.

Not only that, but if you are injured while trying to save your dog or another person from an attacking dog, it's your fault! That's right, under Texas law, this is considered "provoking" the animal.

There are already efforts underway to remove some of these ridiculous loopholes and begin enforcing penalties on the owners of dangerous animals. Until the owner is made to feel a penalty for irresponsibly handling an animal, then there will be no incentive to act responsibly.

The Austin City Council will be reviewing proposed changes to the law this fall. Leena and I intend to be a very public part of the debate on these changes. These inane laws are stacked against the victim; we hope to change this so that no one else ever has to feel victimized by the system as well as an irresponsible pet owner.

Please watch this space as we will update it with our efforts to change the laws here in Austin.

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