Dec 7, 2004 - State Rep.Cam Ward of Alabaster plans to introduce a Vicious Dog Attack Bill during the next regular legislative session. "This bill came about as a result of recent dog attacks on people in Shelby Co," said Ward. The most recent attack occurred when a pit bull attacked the young son of Southern Hills Christian Church Senior Minister, Chris Frank, in Alabaster.
According to Ward, under Alabama law there is no criminal penalty in a case like this. The only punishment that the owner would suffer is a violation of a local leash ordinance. "Under my bill, these attacks would be a criminal misdemeanor by the owner where the owner acted with reckless negligence with the pet," Ward said. He said an example of reckless negligence would be where the owner allows the dog to roam free and does not keep it on a leash. The punishment under his bill would be a hefty fine and in extreme cases, could result in incarceration. He also said that following conviction, the owner would be saddled with a criminal record.
Minister Chris Frank alleges that the Friday after Thanksgiving his 2 sons were out riding a bicycle and skating a block from their home when a large PIT BULL attacked his 10 yr old son, Mathieu, who was skating. The dog went for his son's face and got his lip. His other son took his bicycle helmet and began swinging it at the dog and they managed to get away but he was bleeding profusely from the face and was bitten on the arm. The owner of the pit bull lives in a town house near by without a fence and she did not have proof of inoculation -only the word of the person who sold the dog to her. Even though a police report was filed, there were no charges that could be pressed. The only violation would be the leash law which carries a small fine.
Capt. Curtis Rigney of the Alabaster Police Department says there needs to be some accountability on the part of the dog owner. He said, "We are excited about Ward's bill. We need a law like this." The owner of the dog said she was having trouble keeping her dogs in and did not know they were out. Minister Frank told her to destroy the dog that bit his son and pay the medical bills and he would not press the matter further. At presstime, he had not heard from her. The leash law fine in Alabaster is $25 plus $147 court cost for the first offense.