Ransom is Euthanized
UPDATE 07/30/09: The owner of Ransom, Oliver Yawn, called the dog "vicious" and surrendered it to the state to be euthanized. Yawn said he "didn't want to deal with the BS" of obtaining thousands of dollars in liability insurance and appearing in court. He also blamed the attack on the sound of the landscaper's weed whacker. Yet a week earlier, the dog broke through the home's 6-foot wooden fence and chased 21-year old Amanda Gray, who was not utilizing any tool.
According to Anne Irwin, director of the Bucks County SPCA, there's no agency that deems a dog "dangerous." Pennsylvania state dog law allows the court to make this ruling. She added that state dog law did not apply in this case because the owner relinquished the dog to the state. Though not clearly stated in the article, it appears the landscaper suffered severe injury in the attack. Yawn avoided the state dangerous dog court hearing by surrendering his animal to authorities.
Yawn is now free to buy a new pit bull and start the dangerous dog process from scratch!
07/27/09: Pennsylvania's Three-Strike Policy
Bristol, PA - Phillipe Berrocal, a landscaper, was recently working on a yard on Maple Street when a 5-year old pit bull named Ransom broke through the fence and bit him on the left leg, leaving him with lacerations, according to a police report. Now local officials are looking to State Rep. John Galloway, D-140, who has introduced legislation that would lift Pennsylvania's Anti-BSL measure and allow municipalities to create their own dog-control ordinances.
At least 9 other states share this same predicament: Colorado1, Florida, Illinois2, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma3, Texas and Virginia.
In addition to Pennsylvania's Anti-BSL measure, state law4 allows attacking dogs to be returned to their owners with a warning to keep their dogs "under control." (This is also true when a dog has "broken through a fence" for the purposes of attacking). Pennsylvania has a three-strike policy that allows the pet's return after two incidents unless a dog kills or grievously injures a person. After a 3rd mauling that does not qualify as grievous injury, the dog is euthanized.
The City of Wilkes-Barre
To the north of Bristol, the City of Wilkes-Barre is also experiencing an increase in pit bull attacks. Mayor Tom Leighton, who tried to ban pit bulls in 2005, recently announced that the city would seek state assistance to place tighter restriction on owners of pit bulls and other dangerous breeds. Leighton said he would wait until the state budget is passed before contacting legislators about changing the law to give Wilkes-Barre the freedom to craft breed-specific laws.
According to Department of Agriculture figures, 403 dogs have been deemed "dangerous" in Pennsylvania since 2005. Dogs can end up on the list (except when owned by James Harrison) for severely injuring a person, attacking people unprovoked, killing dogs or cats off their owner's property, or being used in the commission of a crime. 166 (41%) of the "dangerous dogs" are pit bulls or rottweilers, breeds communities often seek to regulate to prevent future attacks.
2Illinois: After an attack left a teenager critically injured, Highland Park Mayor Michael Belsky called for a citywide pit bull ban. Belsky is currently working with state legislators to amend state law and to strengthen home rule authority.
3Oklahoma: Midwest City is currently appealing a court's ruling that overturned their pit bull ban. As a home rule charter city, Midwest argues that they have the authority to rule over local issues, including the regulation of animals.
4View the Pennsylvania state dog law and brief legal discussion by dog bite attorney Kenneth Phillips.
06/20/09: James Harrison's Pit Bull "Patron" is Up for Adoption Under New Breed Name
05/30/09: Steelers Linebacker James Harrison's Pit Bull Attacks His Son
05/11/09: Animal Agency, PSPCA, Distorts History of 25-Year Old Pit Bull Problem
07/27/08: In Parts of Pennsylvania, 3rd World Dog Licensing Fees