Samuel Cheng Fund Raiser
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 .
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,
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.
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,
Excerpts from The Dallas Morning News on Friday, August 31, 2007:
New law on
vicious dogs gives officers tools to pursue
If interested in doing a Samuel Cheng Fund Raiser to help please contact:
The Bull Terrier Club of Dallas at:
By ROY APPLETON / The
Dallas Morning News
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.
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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 ½ years ago
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
"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