(April 16, 2014)—Prior to 2007, Texas followed the so-called one-bite-free law, which essentially allowed a dog to bite someone once without any consequence for the owner.
But in 2007 the Texas Legislature passed and the governor signed a bill stiffening the penalties.
“Lillian’s Law,” named in honor of Lillian Stiles, 76, of Thorndale, who was attacked and killed by six pit bull-Rottweiler mixed-breed dogs that escaped from her neighbor’s backyard, provides for charging a dog owner with a third-degree felony if the dog makes an unprovoked attack and seriously injures the victim.
The third-degree felony is punishable by as much as two to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
If the victim dies, the charge could be a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
KILLEEN (April 16, 2014) Sixty animal bites have been reported so far this year in Killeen alone, police say, and that has some residents and officials worried.
The most recent incident occurred Monday afternoon in the area of Cody Poe Road and Armadillo Drive in Killeen where three pit bulls attacked a 12-year-old girl, an 11-year-old boy and a 26-year-old woman who was trying to help the children.
Their injuries weren’t life threatening, police said.
Officers shot one of the dogs and the other two ran away.
The dog officers shot was euthanized and sent to Austin to be tested for rabies.
"We are just trying to avoid another attack," police spokeswoman Ofelia Miramontez said Wednesday.
She advised residents who see stray dogs to call for an animal control officer.
“Don’t get near the dog,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what type of breed.”
Dog owners could be prosecuted if their animals attack.
"You're responsible if you own a dangerous animal, such a pit-bull, such as a Doberman, a German shepherd, animals that have aggressive tendencies," said attorney Scott Crivelli.
"You're responsible for the harm and the damage they cause, and specifically if you don't keep them in your property and they leave your property and harm someone in the neighborhood it's a strict liability, and you are responsible for that."
Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin says state law prohibits the city from adopting breed-specific ordinances, which is why the city has only a vicious animal ordinance in place.
"In other words if the dog hasn't exhibited any characteristics, then we can't take any action or prohibit any kind of dogs in our city," he said.
"Unfortunately dogs who've had that kind of behavior where they have been perfect their entire lives," he said.
"I've seen many cases where something happens and they hurt or kill a child."
More than 500 animal bites have been reported in Bell County in the last year.
On March 1 in Killeen, a 2-year-old boy was killed and an 8-year-old girl was injured when a group of children walking home from a neighborhood playground was attacked by a bull mastiff.
The dog ran out from the garage of a home in the 4100 block of Pennington Avenue in Killeen and first attacked the girl.
An 18-year-old boy who was walking with the younger children was able to get the dog off the girl, but the animal immediately turned on the small boy, grabbed him and dragged him down the road, police said.
Both children were taken to Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, but the injuries suffered by the 2-year-old were so severe doctors could not save him.
On Feb. 17, 2-year-old Je'vaeh Mayes of Temple died at Scott & White Hospital after a pit bull her family was watching for a friend attacked her in the backyard of her home after she slipped out of the house without her parents' knowledge.