TEXAS SENATE APPROVES LILLIAN'S LAW, STIFFER PENALTIES FOR OWNERS OF VIOLENT DOGS THAT ATTACK TEXANS
May 17, 2007
"In hundreds of horrific cases across Texas, the very young and old have been attacked, even killed by packs of pitbulls. With this bill, we send a strong message that we will protect people from dangerous dogs."
Written by Senator Eliot Shapleigh, www.shapleigh.org
AUSTIN – Today, the Texas Senate unanimously approved Lillian's Law H.B. 1355, sponsored by Senator Eliot Shapleigh. Lillian's Law provides stiffer penalties for owners of violent dogs in Texas.
"In hundreds of horrific cases across Texas, the very young and old have been attacked, even killed by packs of pitbulls," said Senator Shapleigh. "With this bill, we send a strong message that we will protect people from dangerous dogs."
Lillian's Law is named after Lillian Stiles, a 76-year-old woman who was killed while riding a lawnmower in the front yard of her home on Nov. 26, 2005. Stiles was mauled to death by a pack of six pit bull-Rottweiler mixed-breed dogs. Lillian's husband, Jack, was inside their home watching a football game and was unaware of the attack until a passer-by, Weldon Smith, knocked on his door. Outside, Jack found his wife lying dead.
Just a few hundred yards down the road, at the residence of the dogs' owner, Jose Hernandez, an empty dog pen rested behind a 3-foot fence. Last month, Hernandez was found not guilty of criminally negligent homicide.
Since the attack, Lillian's daughter, Marilyn Shoemaker, and her father have fought to pass Lillian's Law.
H.B. 1355 would charge a dog owner with a third-degree felony if the dog causes serious bodily injury to a victim in an unprovoked attack. A third-degree felony is punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a possible $10,000 fine. The crime would be a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison, if a victim dies a result of an unprovoked attack.
In Texas, in 2002, a total of 546 severe animal attacks or bites were voluntarily reported to the Zoonosis Control Division of the Texas Department of Health. The majority of cases, 485 cases, involved domestic dogs.
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