Local News

Owners of Dangerous Dogs Would Need Money or Insurance

Posted May 14, 2007 8:26 p.m. EDT
Updated May 14, 2007 8:42 p.m. EDT

— 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.