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Texas dogs may be declared “dangerous”

by Therese on April 3, 2009

in Dogs

If you live in Texas you need to be aware of HB 1982, introduced by Texas State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio).  Among other things, it states that dogs over 40 lbs. may be declared dangerous or vicious even if that dog has never done anything  to warrant this label.

Something you need to know is that HB 1982 does NOT only affect dogs who are already considered dangerous by many. It includes all dogs over 40 lbs, regardless of breed!

Laura Dapkus, of the Examiner explains what the bill about dangerous and vicious dogs says:

Texas State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio) has introduced HB 1982 which adds new definitions and penalties to Texas’ state dangerous dog law.

HB 1982 at a glance:

  • Adds a new category to the state dangerous dog law: “Vicious” dog.
  • Where the state law says, “dangerous dog,” HB 1982 adds, “dangerous or vicious dog.”
  • A dog declared “vicious” would face the same sanctions as a dog declared “dangerous”.
  • Dogs can be seized without escaping or biting a person or animal.
  • Dogs weighing more than 40 lbs. may never be off-lead under any circumstances.

To understand HB 1982, one needs to understand how a dog is declared dangerous under state law.  Currently, a “dangerous” dog makes an unprovoked attack while at large, or while outside its enclosure commits acts that “cause a person to reasonably believe that the dog will attack and cause bodily injury to that person” (Texas Heath and Safety Code Sec. 822.041).  Under current state law it is already possible to declare a dog “dangerous” without the dog ever touching, much less seriously injuring, a person.

If a dog is declared dangerous, it is subject to enclosure, registration and insurance requirements. These requirements are so burdensome and expensive that most people surrender the dog.  Texas has additional penalties, up to and including second and third degree felonies for the owner, when dogs bite and seriously injure people.

What is a “vicious” dog? Under HB 1982, “vicious” means:  “…because of the dog ’s physical nature and vicious propensity is capable of inflicting serious bodily injury, as that term is defined by Section 822.001, or death to human beings and constitutes a danger to human life or property…”

This is a broad definition. Any dog is physically capable of  injuring a person — he may not have the inclination to do so, but  canine teeth are after all designed to tear meat. One has to ask if  “or property” means that a dog may be declared vicious for being capable of eating a sofa?

Read more of this article and another one that explains how HB 1982 could affect you. You can download the text of the bill here.

What you can do:

Attend a public hearing
TIME & DATE:   2:00 PM or upon final adjourn./recess
Monday, April 06, 2009
PLACE:     E2.016 – Austin at the State Capitol

Fax and call
Email is not a good way to communicate and some of them are blocking it now.

Be sure to put:  OPPOSED TO HB 1982 or VOTE NO ON HB 1982 in bold, large letters as your subject title.

Author: Trey Martinez Fischer, San Antonio
http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/dist116/martinez-fischer.php
Capitol Address:
Room E1.320, Capitol Extension
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 463-0616
(512) 463-4873 Fax
DISTRICT: SAN ANTONIO

COUNTY AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

Clerk:  Revlynn Lawson
Phone: (512) 463-0760

Chair:    Rep. Garnet Coleman
Vice Chair:    Rep. Geanie Morrison
Members:
Rep. Leo Berman
Rep. Valinda Bolton
Rep. Joaquin Castro
Rep. John Davis
Rep. Marisa Marquez
Rep. Ralph Sheffield
Rep. Wayne Smith

Rep. Garnet Coleman (chair)
http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/dist147/coleman.php

Capitol Office: CAP GW.17
Capitol Address:      P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0524 FAX: (512) 463-1260
DISTRICT: HOUSTON

Rep. Geanie Morrison (Vice Chair)
http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/dist30/morrison.php

Capitol Office: CAP GN.11
Capitol Address:      P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0456  FAX:  (512) 476-3933
DISTRICT: VICTORIA

Rep. Leo Berman
http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/dist6/welcome.htm

Capitol Office: EXT E2.908
Capitol Address:      P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0584    FAX (512) 463-3217
DISTRICT: TYLER

Rep. Valinda Bolton
http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/dist47/bolton.php

Capitol Office: EXT E2.716
Capitol Address:      P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0652   FAX (512) 463-0565
DISTRICT: AUSTIN

Rep. Joaquin Castro
http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/dist125/castro.php
Capitol Office: EXT E1.302
Capitol Address:      P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0669   FAX (512) 463-5074
DISTRICT: SAN ANTONIO

Rep. John E. Davis
http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/dist129/davis.php

Capitol Office: CAP 4S.4
Capitol Address:      P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0734   FAX (512) 479-6955
DISTRICT: HOUSTON

Rep. Marisa Marquez
http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/dist77/marquez.php

Capitol Office: EXT E2. 704
Capitol Address:      P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0638    FAX (512) 463-8908
DISTRICT: AUSTIN

Rep. Ralph Sheffield
http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/dist55/sheffield.php

Capitol Office: EXT E1.422
Capitol Address:      P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0630  FAX (512)322-9054
DISTRICT: AUSTIN

Rep. Wayne Smith
http://www.house.state.tx.us/members/dist128/smith.php

Capitol Office: EXT E2.214
Capitol Address:      P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768
Capitol Phone: (512) 463-0733   FAX  (512) 463-1323
DISTRICT: BAYTOWN

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

lisa k April 4, 2009 at 12:50 am

This is so scary and DANGEROUS! Thanks, Therese for the important public service that you do! C’mon peeps with dogs, let ’em hear us Bark for Peace! woof!woof! 🙂

Reply

Suzanne April 6, 2009 at 9:27 am

This is pure ignorance! Anyone who has owned a dog knows that weight does not dictate whether a dog is dangerous. Look at all the little dogs out there that bite! Humans are the ones who need to be educated and trained on how to coexist with dogs.

Reply

Kyle Allen April 8, 2009 at 1:45 pm

The representative who proposed this bill can be reached via his BLOG @:

http://treymartinezfischer.com/Blog.aspx?process=view_record&rid=1#commentsTop

Reply

Carly April 9, 2009 at 9:48 pm

I was bit by a Pekinese when I was in High School… All 20 pounds of him… and it drew blood…

Reply

Nur Aykurt May 28, 2010 at 8:16 pm

Sad and amazed ! Never in a million years ı would expect such inhuman idea coming from USA, whole story sounds like China.

Reply

Machine February 16, 2012 at 11:10 am

No matter what, and I love dogs, people have to be responsible for their actions. If your dog mauls a stranger off your property and costs that person medical and wage loss or permanet scars you should be accountable.

Reply

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