DE Dangerous Dog Legislation Aims To Prevent Future Tragedies - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

DE Dangerous Dog Legislation Aims To Prevent Future Tragedies

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DELAWARE - It's been almost one week since 4-year-old Kasii Haith was tragically killed during a pit bull attack in Felton, leaving many questions as to why, and how it can be prevented.

"He was a sweet little guy, a sweet little boy, it's such a tragedy," says Sylvia Parker, a neighbor and friend of the Haith family.

It's because of those types of deadly dog bites that Representative Dennis Williams sponsored House Bill 297, which passed the House on Tuesday.

"This really is a public safety issue," he says.

This bill clarifies when an animal control constable or dog warden may impound a dog that is suspected of being dangerous or potentially dangerous.

"There were several things that weren't clear enough to actually impound the dog," says Representative Williams.

In addition, the bill removes largely language referencing an exception for the dog owner's property. However, the law will still include an exception for injury to a "human being who, at the time the injury was sustained, was committing criminal trespass or other tort upon premises occupied by the owner of the dog, or was teasing, tormenting, abusing or assaulting the dog, or was committing or attempting to commit a crime."

"That was a stumbling block for us for enforcement, if it happened on the owners property we couldn't remove the dog," says Kevin Usilton, executive director of the Kent County SPCA, which also handles dog control services for the state.

Usilton says because the pit-bull that attacked Haith had no problems in the past,they could not have removed them prior to the attack. The incident has since raised the common concern about the safety of pit bulls, but Usilton says the potential reason behind the attack has nothing to do with the breed.

"Almost 98% of fatalities occur from an unneutered male dog, and in this case one of the dogs was an unneutered male dog and the other two were female unspayed dogs," says Usilton. "Pit bulls are the most popular breed in a shelter so there are more of them being produced and less people spay and neuter their pit bulls, so because there's a big population there's going to be more bites. We encourage people to recognize that any dog can bite."

Usilton says the state has taken another big step in bringing back a "Dangerous Dog Panel," made up of dog experts, to decide the fate of the dog after it is impounded. The panel was originally apart of Delaware's dangerous dog laws, but Usilton says the state has not had one for more than two years. He also feels that the Kent County SPCA handling all dog control services will keep the system more organized.

"This is a prime example of why laws are important and why laws have to be up to date," says Usilton. "It helps keep our community safe."

"There's got to be some kind of restriction," says Parker. "The grieving, it's going to be a long process."

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