Texas state Rep. Dan Gattis has introduced legislation that would mean tougher penalties for the owners of dogs who cause serious injury or death.
Gattis’ bill, which was presented to the Texas Legislature on Feb. 12, would allow authorities to charge owners of dogs involved in deadly attacks with second-degree felonies, which carry potential penalties of two to 20 years in prison.
Current law allows dog owners to be charged only if the animal had previously been deemed dangerous by authorities.
The legislation, House Bill 1355, is commonly referred to as “Lillian’s Law” in honor of a 76-year-old woman who was killed in 2005 by six dogs that got out of a neighbor’s backyard.
In February 2006 a grand jury indicted the dogs’ owner for criminally negligent homicide.
State Sen. Jeff Wentworth has also filed a version of “Lillian’s Law” to hold dog owners accountable, but his version does not call for penalties as lengthy as those outlined in Gattis’ bill.