Friday, September 4, 2009
Lake County, FL - Back in March, 22-year old Tracy Whigham1 suffered critical injury by two pit bulls while out for a jog. The pit bull owners were fined $168. Commissioner Elaine Renick had wanted to take stronger action against the pit bull owners, but was stopped by existing law. Animal Services Director Marjorie Boyd reminded Renick, "The penalty for an animal injuring someone is the same under our county ordinance as if the animal tears up your trash."
Boyd coined the phrase, "This is not just a bite. This is a mauling" after the Whigham incident, which explicitly differentiates a dog "bite" from a pit bull "mauling," and wrote the new ordinance that can penalize a dog owner up to $10,000 after an attack. In the newest article, Boyd also states, "It's my job to protect people from animals first, animals from people second," immediately qualifying Boyd for the DogsBite.org Annual Awards for the Year 2009.
Under the new law, a first offense could cost the owner $500. If the animal is a repeat offender, the fine is $1,000. If the attack results in an injury that requires medical attention, the first offense is $1,000 and a repeat violation is $2,000. Depending on the severity of the attack and the animal's rap sheet, the fine could go as high as $10,000. The new fines presumably apply "per pet." The Whigham incident involved two pit bulls, thus doubling the fines.
Whigham, who still suffers shooting pains -- nerve damage -- in her leg and shoulder, was also quoted in the article. She said she was glad the county strengthened its ordinance. She would like, however, for the county to ban dangerous dog breeds outright such as Miami-Dade did 20 years ago. Following the Miami-Dade Pit Bull Ban, the State of Florida passed an anti-BSL measure (767.14) prohibiting counties and municipalities from passing similar legislation.
Related ZUPF video
07/27/09: Pit Bulls Lead "Bite" Counts Across U.S. Cities and Counties
04/10/09: Animal Control: "This is Not Just a Bite. This is a Mauling."
04/03/09: Orlando Sentinel Asks: What Should be Done with Pit Bulls?
04/02/09: Editorial: Pit Bull Owners "Too Vacuous" to Consider Consequences
01/09/09: DogsBite.org Announces Our Annual Awards for the Year 2008
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| 9/04/2009 12:42 PM |
The anti-BSL law should be declared invalid.
This was unhanded activity by dog breeders who don't pay their taxes and criminal dog fighters to enable human slaughter.
A law passed by lobbying from corrupt entities is not acceptable. A law passed in a sneaky, underhanded way that the public had no voice in.
A law that endangers people but protects criminal activity.
| 9/04/2009 1:09 PM |
Florida Statute 767.14 went into effect in 1990 and prohibited counties and cities within Florida from proposing and approving breed specific legislation and did not apply to any local ordinances that were passed prior to the statute. Miami-Dade County is the only county in Florida that currently has breed specific ordinances in effect: their BSL was adopted in 1989.
"767.14 Additional local restrictions authorized.--Nothing in this act shall limit any local government from placing further restrictions or additional requirements on owners of dangerous dogs or developing procedures and criteria for the implementation of this act, provided that no such regulation is specific to breed and that the provisions of this act are not lessened by such additional regulations or requirements. This section shall not apply to any local ordinance adopted prior to October 1, 1990."
| 9/04/2009 7:41 PM |
California has anti-breed specific laws on the books as far as bans go. However, local municipalities can pass mandatory s/n, etc. And that's why LA now has mandatory spay/neuter but across the board. When this issue comes before City Councils and County Board of Supervisors, they decide to make it across the board rather than put up with the nutters coming down on them. So it turned into a positive thing except that it will be a slower go to get it done. Some places probably won't do it because they are agricultural areas.
| 9/05/2009 6:07 AM |
The only problem I have with this fine system that it is the dog that is being punished. If it is a repeat offender the fine goes up. It should focus on the owner. If the owner is a repeat offender the fine should go up. What is there to stop those owners from getting another aggressive dog after their dog bites?
| 9/05/2009 2:38 PM |
You point out a great failure with the way dog bites are tracked in the U.S. Bite incidents are typically attached to the dog, not to the owner, even though it's clear that "repeat offenders" make up a significant portion of the dog bite problem. So a man named Jim could have 5 pit bulls each with one bite and only if one of his dog's bites again (becomes a 2-time biter) does Jim get a stiffer penalty. It's unclear why Jim is not being held accountable for all 5 bites when penalized. The Lake County ordinance may take the owner's history into account as well as the dog's, but we would have to look at the details of the ordinance to learn more.
See related blog post:
Great Idea: "Collective" Dog Bite Penalties
| 9/06/2009 12:40 PM |
Tracy's medical bills are nearing $100,000. She was attacked March 28. Over 5 months later she is still "changing wound dressings."
THIS IS THE TRUTH ABOUT PIT BULL INJURY.
"Pit-bull bite victim Tracy Lindsey spends roughly $170 a month on medical bandages, gauze and prescription ointments for her mauled left leg, or about $2 more than the fine Lake County slapped on the dogs' owner. "It doesn't seem fair or quite right, does it?" asked the 23-year-old mother of two as she rewrapped the raw wound, which has been slow to heal since the attack on Getford Road five months ago. Her medical bills are nearing $100,000 now, and her cell phone seems to ring constantly. "Debt collectors," she said."