Backdoor Escape Policy
Rye, NH - On June 5th, we reported a story about a cairn terrier that was attacked by a pit bull rottweiler-mix. Denise Saurman, the owner of the terrier named Tim, was walking her dog on Rye Beach when she saw a group of four loose dogs approaching. She turned and headed home, but as soon as she did, Tim was attacked by a nearby leashed dog.
The bigger dog, which is now being reported as only a rottweiler, sunk its teeth into Tim, injuring him significantly. So far Tim has undergone $6,000 worth of surgery and medication. The owner of the offending dog did not stick around after the attack. But the person was eventually located and identified. Due to a new state law in New Jersy, however, prosecutors say their hands are tied. They cannot go after the offending dog's owner, Nanci Crosbie.
Unjust New State Law:
For first offense of the vicious dog law, the owner of the rotweiller, Nanci Crosbie, 53, of 21 Carbee Drive, paid a civil forfeiture of $25. An amendment to the state law, which went into effect Jan. 1, allows the person in violation to avoid criminal prosecution as long as they pay the fine to the town within 96 hours of being charged. The law, however, does not prevent a civil case from being filed, which Eliot, Maine, resident and dog owner Denise Saurman said she may consider.
Essentially, as long as the owner of a vicious dog pays a fine of $25 within 96 hours of being charged, the person can avoid criminal prosecution. This escape route may only apply to a first offense. Apparently the law also applies to humans. So if a dog seriously attacks a child, the dog owner can easily avoid criminal charges. Serious dog bite injury to New Jersey lawmakers appears to by valued less than a parking infraction.
Understandably, Saurman said that the $25 fine was not what she had in mind following an attack that required 30 stitches, four surgeries and $6,000 to repair. "They can't prosecute, so she's pretty much off the hook," said Saurman. "The story here is be careful with dogs on the beach, because if you get injured or your pet gets injured, all they have to do is pay a civil forfeiture." She added that at least Tim is still alive. "He's a tough little dog."
The article also mentions that the insurance companies of Saurman and Crosbie are discussing the matter of restitution.
06/07/08: Victimized Pet Owners Learn Arcane Dog Law the Hard Way
06/05/08: Pit Bull-Mix Redirects Attack onto Cairn Terrier at Rye Beach