By Rachel E. Montes on Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Nancy Hayes, (30), of Arlington, Texas, is the owner of two pit bulls, one of which was previously declared as “dangerous” was charged with a crime for her dogs’ recent attack on a neighbor. The victim, Robert Wallis, (66) said Hayes’ two pit bulls flew out an unlocked gate as he walked outside to his mailbox. Mr. Wallis reported that, “(There was) no warning, and every time I got halfway back up, I was pulled back down again.” The dog bit Mr. Wallis on his hand, arm, ankle and face. “All I could think of was (to) get up and keep them off of me,” Mr. Wallis was rescued by a postal service employee. Wallis says his neighbor hasn’t apologized for the attack or said anything to him since it happened April 22. As is typical for these types of incidents, the city euthanized both of the animals after this attack.
One of the same dogs had been declared dangerous last summer after it attacked another man. Following that incident, Hayes had promised to keep the animal restrained. Like most cities, Arlington has a number of local ordinances that are fairly strict about the requirements to keep dogs fenced in and on a leash.
Arlington’s City Ordinances state:
Section 4.11 Animal At Large
A. A person commits an offense if he fails to keep an animal he owns from being at large.
Section 8.05 Requirements for Owners of Dangerous Animals
A. … the owner of a dangerous animal, the owner shall:
1. Register the dangerous animal with the Animal Services Manager and maintain current registration at all times;
2. Restrain the animal in a secure enclosure inspected and approved by the Animal Services Manager;
4. Microchip and register the dangerous animal for its life with a national registry, and present proof to the Animal Services Manager…..
Section 8.06 Registration
A. The Animal Services Manager shall annually register a dangerous animal if the owner is in compliance with the owner’s requirements of Section 8.05. ….
Section 8.10 Muzzle and Restraint of Dangerous Animals
An owner of a dangerous animal shall not permit a dangerous animal to be outside the secure enclosure unless the animal is muzzled and restrained by a substantial chain or leash, no longer than six (6) feet in length, and a capable person is in immediate physical control of the leash. Such animal shall not be leashed to any inanimate object such as a tree, post, building, or other object. The muzzle shall be made in a manner that will not cause injury to the animal or interfere with its vision or respiration but shall prevent it from biting any person or animal.
Section 8.08 Offenses
A. A person commits an offense if the person is the owner of a dangerous animal and the animal makes an unprovoked attack on another person outside the animal’s enclosure, and the attack causes bodily injury to the other person.
B. A person commits an offense if the person is the owner of a dangerous dog and the dog makes an unprovoked attack on a domestic animal or domestic fowl while said dog is at large, and the attack causes bodily injury or death to the domestic animal or domestic fowl.
C. A person commits an offense if the person is the owner of a dangerous animal or the new owner of a dangerous animal and performs an act prohibited or fails to perform an act required by this Article.
In this case, the criminal charges, however, are not based upon the city ordinances, but rather violations of Texas law. Specifically, police are charging Nancy Hayes with a third degree felony of “attack by dog resulting in serious injury.” The charge is punishable by up two to 10 years in prison. In 2007, the Texas legislature enacted “Lillian’s Law,” after Lillian Stiles, a central Texas woman who was mauled by several dogs in 2005 to hold dog owners accountable for these attacks.
While there is no doubt that even pit bulls and rotweillers can be very good and loving pets, dog owners have a responsibility to make sure that they do not let their dogs roam free and attack other people. This is particularly true when the dog has previously been declared a dangerous dog because of its vicious propensities. In Arlington, if the dog is declared “dangerous” then the dog owner must carry homeowner’s insurance in the amount of at least $100,000 to cover the damages the dog may cause if another attack occurs. However, even if the dog has not been declared dangerous, most homeowner’s policies will cover the damages these dogs cause when an attack occurs that is shown to be caused in part by the negligence of the dog’s owner.
Montes Herald Law Group, LLP
Attorneys: Rachel Montes and Tom Herald
1121 Kinwest Parkway, Suite 100
Irving, Texas 75063
Telephone (214) 522-9401
Facebook @ Montes Herald Law Group, L.L.P.