County Ups the Ante
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.
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