Senator Jackson Bites Back Against Vicious Dogs
posted January 31, 2007
Senator Doug Jackson (D-Dickson) unveiled a package of bills designed to take a bite out of the recent increase in attacks by vicious dogs.
“Dogs make great pets,” Mr. Jackson said. “But when a dog attacks, it can be deadly. Most victims are children and the elderly. Many victims are disfigured for life or even killed. Our current law does very little to punish owners of vicious dogs. This package of legislation will put real teeth into the law.”
Senator Jackson’s bills (SB139-143) create penalties for dog owners who allow their dogs to run at-large if that dog attacks an innocent victim. The legislation closes the current loopholes that allow owners of vicious dogs to escape penalty. The largest loophole is the so-called “first-bite free” rule that says the first time a dog bites or attacks someone, the owner is not held liable. Mr. Jackson’s bills would end that practice.
Senator Jackson sets out a range of very stiff penalties for owners whose dogs attack individuals. The penalties range from a year in prison and a $2500 fine (Class A misdemeanor) all the way up to 3-17 years in prison (Class C felony).
"Owners of vicious dogs beware,” he said. “When a dog attacks, it’s serious. The punishment should fit the crime.” He pointed to an increasing number of dog attacks as evidence of the need for his legislation. They included recent cases in Nashville when a woman was killed by a dog attack and in Shelbyville when another woman was seriously injured in an attack.