Home
Articles
BlackBark

Bully Links
Breeder Pages
Bully Business

Leadership
Meetings
News
People
Rescue
Shows
Store
Email
Samuel Cheng Fund Raiser

The sentiment is similar to rescuing a dog, because this is obviously a result of a dog that was rescued. We take all these efforts to ensure being humane to bull terriers wouldn't it be humane to help a small child that has been viciously attack by a couple of bull terriers .

Samuel Cheng looks at the blood-stained pants he was wearing after a bull terrier attacked him in his North Dallas neighborhood two years ago. Samuel, now 4, spent four days in a hospital with a skin wounds and a fractured leg.

After insurance, his parents say they spent about $3,000. Going on two years later, the boy's injuries have healed. "One...two...three," he said, pointing to his leg scars before resuming a run about his Dallas home.

He stops to pick up a stuffed cocker spaniel toy. Asked about the dog that bit him, 4-year-old Samuel pauses and frowns. "I would kill it," he says softly, romping away.

Excerpts from The Dallas Morning News on Friday, August 31, 2007: New law on vicious dogs gives officers tools to pursue owners


If interested in doing a Samuel Cheng Fund Raiser to help  please contact: 

The Bull Terrier Club of Dallas at:  samuelcheng@bullterrierclubofdallas.com


 

By ROY APPLETON / The Dallas Morning News
rappleton@dallasnews.com

LEGISLATING

JIM MAHONEY/DMN
Animal control officers, who came across a passive dog in South Dallas, welcome the state's new law on vicious dogs. YOUR LIFE On paper, it's an aggressive cut to the chase.Beginning Saturday, the owner of a dog that kills or seriously injures someone could go to prison under a new Texas law.

COURTNEY PERRY/DMN
Samuel Cheng looks at the blood-stained pants he was wearing after a bull terrier attacked him in his North Dallas neighborhood two years ago. Samuel, now 4, spent four days in a hospital with a skin wounds and a fractured leg. Enacted by the Legislature this year in response to the fatal mauling of an elderly woman, the law makes it easier to prosecute dog owners and provides for some of the nation's stiffest dog-bite penalties.

Its felony offense adds some sting to laws that can be difficult to enforce, easy to disregard and more often punish dogs instead of the people responsible for them.

REX C. CURRY/Special Contributor
A German shepherd picked up for biting awaits euthanasia in quarantine at Dallas' animal shelter in Oak Cliff. Supporters hope the tougher terms catch dog owners' attention and reduce the number and severity of attacks.

But in trying to balance public safety and personal rights, the new law applies only to the most brutal attacks and specific conditions. Its impact will be difficult, if not impossible, to know. Dog bites, vicious or not, won't end, just as laws and prisons don't stop murders and robberies.

Still, animal-control officers and others say they welcome this latest approach to a tenacious problem.

"Any tool we can get to protect our citizens is vital," said Keane Menefee, Fort Worth's director of animal care and control.

Most blame owners

Any dog can be a loving pet, canine fanciers say. Just as any dog can bite, say animal-control officers.

Most bites aren't serious, but some dogs become aggressive and vicious at any time for any reason, they say: fear, training (or not), mistreatment, protection of food or home.

Vicious dogs are usually the creation of irresponsible owners, animal specialists say, because too many people don't train and socialize their animals, encourage them to be aggressive and don't keep them secured.

"It's no different than giving a loaded .45 to a 3-year-old to protect a home," said Jay Sabatucci, Southwest regional program manager for the Humane Society of the United States.

Outrage over attacks

Whether the news accounts or bite reports tell of pit bulls, Rottweilers, chows or any breed mix, the attacks keep coming – with sometimes horrific and costly results.

A pit bull killed 10-year-old Amber Jones in San Antonio this year after she freed the animal that was caught on a fence. A Rottweiler critically injured 9-year-old Raymond Williams in a mauling 2 years ago in Lancaster.

A Rottweiler mix attacked 13-year-old Tracey Garrison on a Dallas street last November, biting her thighs, feet and a hand. Eight-year-old Shane McKenzie of Irving was hospitalized for a week in March after an Akita mix jumped him as he ran near the tethered dog.

And there was the fatal mauling of 76-year-old Lillian Stiles by six pit bull-Rottweiler mixes as the resident of Milam County in Central Texas worked in her front yard.

Outrage over that November 2005 attack and a jury's acquittal of the dogs' owner led to the new Lillian's Law.

That owner was found not guilty of criminally negligent homicide in part because his dogs had no record of previous bites. State law at the time held that an owner could be charged with a misdemeanor for a dog's attack if it was by definition dangerous – had previously bitten or aggressively threatened someone while at large and without provocation.

Under the new law, the owner of a dangerous dog can still face misdemeanor charges if the animal injures someone. That same owner now can be on the hook for a felony and prison time if the victim dies or suffers wounds requiring hospitalization.

And eliminating the so-called free-bite defense, any dog's first attack can be a felony offense – if the injuries are fatal or severe enough and if prosecutors prove the owner's criminal negligence in not securing the animal.

"What we're recognizing is a dog is inherently dangerous, just like a firearm, and you have a responsibility to secure it," said Robert Kepple, executive director of the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, who helped draft the measure.


'Finally,' a recourse

After vicious attacks, authorities usually impound the dogs for rabies quarantine. The dogs sometimes are given up by their owners for euthanasia or, in the most extreme cases, destroyed after a court order.

Worst case, offending dogs pay with their life; victims die or face pain, trauma and medical bills. And owners suffer the loss of a pet, perhaps feel remorse, maybe compensate a victim and can face a misdemeanor fine or lawsuit.

The tougher law, animal-control officers and others say, is a good move.

"Finally we are holding the owners criminally responsible for their negligence," said Mr. Sabatucci. "Finally, there is some recourse."

And some uncertainty. "This is better than what we have now," said Dallas lawyer Robert "Skip" Trimble, an animal-welfare advocate. "But whether it solves the problem, I guess we'll have to wait and see."

The law probably won't unleash the legal system on dog owners, animal-control authorities say.

In situations where a dog hasn't attacked before – isn't "dangerous" – not only must prosecutors prove criminal negligence, but victims must die, be permanently disfigured or severely impaired, a more severe standard of injury than previously required.

To establish criminal negligence, Mr. Kepple believes, prosecutors essentially will have to show that an owner knew of and ignored the risk of a dog's escape from its enclosure.

But Kenneth Phillips, a Los Angeles lawyer who represents dog-bite victims, said the test should be whether an owner knew or should have known that his dog had previously attacked someone.

"What's the criminal negligence of a dog running loose?" he said. And what's new if negligence requires that an attacking dog have a violent past? The so-called free-bite defense survives, Mr. Phillips said. "This bill adds nothing for the law in Texas."


Attack on a toddler

Besides setting thresholds of injury and wrongdoing, the new law also will require investigative work by animal-control officers, who typically aren't trained to deal with criminal offenses, said Fort Worth's Mr. Menefee, past president of the officers' state association. And it will take a serious commitment from police officers and prosecutors, he said.

"It's got some teeth to it, but I'll be real curious to see the first time it goes through," he said.

The law "will be used," Mr. Kepple said, particularly in cases where dogs are allowed to run loose. And that first time "should be a real wake-up call."

Two-year-old Samuel Cheng, his mother and sister received a wake up of sorts one December afternoon.

Two bull terriers charged the three while they walked in a North Dallas neighborhood, and one began biting the boy's legs as his mother held him in her arms.

Ms. Cheng said they fell to the ground and she kicked at the dog as it kept biting and dragging her son before a passer-by intervened. "You should have seen the terror on his face," she said.

Samuel spent four days in a hospital with a skin wounds and a fractured leg. After insurance, his parents say they spent about $3,000. Going on two years later, the boy's injuries have healed. "One...two...three," he said, pointing to his leg scars before resuming a run about his Dallas home.

He stops to pick up a stuffed cocker spaniel toy. Asked about the dog that bit him, 4-year-old Samuel pauses and frowns. "I would kill it," he says softly, romping away.

City-by-city policy

Whether such an attack would warrant felony charges against the dogs' owner under the new law would be a question for police and prosecutors. The boy's injuries may not have been serious enough to meet the law's standard for first-time attacks. And the dogs had not been previously deemed dangerous or involved in other incidents – at least in Dallas, animal-control officials say.

But other laws and a Dallas city ordinance applied. They are rules that address vicious dogs and their owners, that offer a framework for response and control, but can be difficult to enforce, are applied inconsistently and don't provide a uniform approach to the problem.

For example, Texas law provides definitions and rules for determining whether a dog is dangerous, a designation that in the new statute can qualify its owner for felony charges.

It sets conditions that owners must meet if their dog is deemed dangerous. And it allows cities and counties to impose their own regulations for defining, judging and dealing with vicious dogs, as long as the rules are more stringent than the state's and don't single out specific breeds.

In some cities, such as Grand Prairie, the animal-control director, after investigating complaints, decides whether a dog is dangerous. In Dallas, an animal-control official makes the call after a hearing involving the complainant and dog owner. Any determination may be appealed to a court.

Cities also vary in their acceptance of dangerous dogs. Some, such as Grand Prairie, Garland and Richardson, evict them, sending the problem elsewhere. Dallas, Fort Worth and Plano are among those that allow them to stay under certain conditions.

But enforcing those conditions becomes difficult, if not impossible, when owners and their dogs move without notice or forwarding address, as has been a problem for Dallas officials.


Dogs disappear

Dallas officials don't know the whereabouts of the dogs that attacked Samuel Cheng.

His parents filed a complaint against their owner, Gregory Anderson, and the dogs were deemed dangerous after a hearing in February 2006.

Mr. Anderson told Dallas officials at the hearing that he had moved them to Arkansas. The dogs did live for a while at the Arkansas address but have moved on, according to a resident there, who declined to say where the dogs or Mr. Anderson now live. Attempts to contact Mr. Anderson were unsuccessful.

Whether Mr. Anderson's dogs, wherever they are, will attack again can't be known.

When and where the next dog kills or maims or punctures a leg is anybody's guess as well.

"Our goal was to make the city a safer place," Ms. Cheng said. "If I did not take the time and go to a hearing those animals could still be living in that house.

"I think about it now and chills come back," she said of the attack on her son. "I hate dogs."