Local News

Owners of Dangerous Dogs Would Need Money or Insurance

Posted May 14, 2007

— A bill that has been passed by the state Senate would establish dangerous dog boards in each county and would require that owners of dogs deemed dangerous show they could pay $5,000 if their animals harmed someone.

Supporters hope the legislation, which is now in the state House, could prevent incidents like a recent one in Rocky Mount.

Rocky is a dog who is living under quarantine at the Rocky Mount animal shelter because he attacked a 75-year-old woman. His owner, Tom Van Ness, recently pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault in the case, was put on probation and was ordered to pay more than $3,000 for his neighbor's medical bills.

Sen. Edward Jones, a Democrat who represents seven eastern counties, including Halifax, co-sponsored the legislation.

“I think the end result is that people will take a lot more responsibility for the animals that they have,” Jones said.

The legislation known as the “dangerous dog financial responsibility” bill, would require each of the 100 counties to set up a dangerous dog board. The board could classify a dog as dangerous if an animal attacks someone without provocation or a dog is trained to fight.

If the dog is labeled as dangerous, its owner would then be required to prove financial responsibility, usually by posting a bond or having an insurance policy.

If an owner could not prove financial responsibility for a dangerous dog, the board could order officers to take it into custody and euthanize it.


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  • FiveOclocksomewhere May 15, 2007

    The truth...The people who take care of their pets are the one's who get punished. We are the one's who get bit in the wallet.

  • All American May 15, 2007

    Hard to believe a lab is in this situation. VERY VERY rare. I have a chocolate Lab. They are the top "family dog" that poor dog MUST of been abused. I had a Chihuahua that was meaner then my 3 Dobermans put together. You cant judge the dogs breed. Then again, do you? Who would think of a Lab being dangerous!!! I feel for the dog, you can see fear in his eyes. Jus my 2 cents~

  • steelersfan May 15, 2007

    Soooooo... First, the dog has to attack someone to be deemed dangerous. Then after the dog is deemed dangerous the owner has to show proof that they can allot $5000 in damages. So "when" the dog attacks again they can just cough up some money when it is in actuality "a second offense". Let's just hope you are the second attack by the dog. The first who is attacked is just SOL.

  • ladybug467 May 15, 2007

    Mulvay8888 - I like what you said ! so true so true
    From what I read above: due to the fact my dog has never hurt anyone, (or barked in a mean way) and is not trained to fight, then I shouldn't worry about any of this. I just want to get this clear for myself before I start thinking about some of my friends, who this might be a problem.

  • tagirl May 15, 2007

    I have three large dogs, a yellow lab (100lbs), a German Shepard (89lbs) and a Rottweiler, she is a puppy but it expected to top out at 85-90lbs. I keep my dogs b/c I love them and for protection. My home is 900 feet off the road, if you come down my driveway you are safe come into my house or my fenced back yard and my dogs and I will have a problem. A lot of breeds get bad names, but it is how the doge is raised. My dogs have all been through training and they listen, Klaus the Shepard will be going though police training this summer so he respond to attack voice commands. A bad dog means a bad owner, period! I’m just worried how this law will affect responsible dog owners. I can not imagine what it will cost to carry $15,000 worth of extra insurance b/c I choose to keep large breed dogs. I know now the law is worded now “if your dog had attacked”, but as it has been stated the recourses are not there, I fear it will eventually be generalized to breeds not individual dogs.

  • mulvay8888 May 15, 2007

    Well, I'm not sure how this will play out. It sounds a little too good to be true and I am afraid of what the outcome might be here.

  • JDPike May 15, 2007

    That's funny, not the fact that you were chased, but the name of the dog.

    Usually larger dogs have some kind of obedience training (directly or indirectly) to control them, small dog owners can just pick their dog up and usually don't have any kind of vocal control over their dogs.

  • mulvay8888 May 15, 2007

    JDPike - I agree. I have always owned large breed dogs and that is all my children have grown up around. I was onced chased by a poodle for 3 blocks when I was in the 5th grade. The lady running after the poodle was screaming his name, "Jaws".

  • JDPike May 15, 2007

    Mulvay8888 - I see where you are going, and I can only hope that what you are thinking may happen never does. I am not afraid of many dogs, but the ones that I have been most cautious of in the past are the little yippie ones. There is no telling what they may do. They will bite without warning. I love larger breed dogs, if they are going to bite you at least they usually start to growl to give you a chance to back away. I find it funny when I go to petsmart and people are in there with their dogs, parents will let their children pet the little out of control dogs, but want them to stay clear of the well behaved pitt, rottie, or dobie. Some people, I just don't understand, if you let your kid pet any strange dog, you should always be between the dog and your child.

  • mulvay8888 May 15, 2007

    JDPike- I understand what you saying, really I do. Let me break down for you what I think this is leading into... It will be too difficult for counties to manage such a law, so once the original bill is passed an amendment will be made to allow for a list to be generated. Once the list is generated, all dogs that are classified as vicious will now require a bond or insurance even before they bite someone. Give an inch, the government will take a mile. It would make their lives easier to enofrce the law that way.