A vicious dog attack in Newark last week prompted Rep. Dennis E. Williams D-Claymont, to ask legislators to take a second look at state law concerning dog attacks.
According to Rep. Williams, existing law that currently addresses situations where dangerous dogs chase or attack people need to be clarified. House Bill 297, recently introduced by Williams is believed to do just that.
80-year old Edward Yeninas supports the proposed bill. On April 12th, Yeninas’ 10-pound poodle was ripped from his arms by a 150-pound bull mastiff. Yaninas walked away with nearly 30 small and large dog bites but his poodle whom he lovingly called Yannie was killed from the incident.
“I would like to see that dog put down because I’m afraid if that dog gets out again, it’s going to do the same thing,” said Yaninas.
Currently state law sets a high bar to have a dog euthanized virtually leaving enforcement of the law “unclear” says Rep. Williams.
“Animal Control and New Castle County Police have said that state law is unclear in these situations and they are unable to take action,” said Rep. Williams.
In Delaware it doesn’t take much to declare a dog dangerous. It can be considered dangerous whether it chases a person, kills or injures a person including another domestic animal. Whatever the case, those dogs are normally quarantined for about 10 days then it’s up to a five-member Dog Control Panel to decide the animal’s fate.
In the case of the Yeninas the dog was immediately captured and quarantined. A panel will later hear from Yaninas and community members who want the bull mastiff put down since it’s known for attacking people at random.
“That dog has been out at least twice. Last year it was out, it bit a lady. This year it was out the gate, it bit me,” Yaninas said.
“It’s unconscionable to think that we can have situations like this occur – with residents afraid to let their children play outdoors – and Animal Control is unable to do something about it. This bill will allow Animal Control to take action against dangerous dogs like this and better protect residents,” said Rep. Williams.
House Bill 297 will maintain existing protections such as if a dog attacks a person who trespasses onto its owner’s property or if a person abuse or torments the animal. Williams says the next step for the bill is to put it on a committee agenda for a hearing.