17-year-old Paul Hicklin III of Fontana, California, has been charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, because he ordered his pit bull to attack an 8-year-old boy, and the latter was mauled. Hicklin has pleaded not guilty. (Click here to read the article.)
In the article linked above, I was quoted accurately as saying, “Throughout the country, there are dog owners that face criminal charges for their actions almost every day. But it is distressing that it is not happening more often.”
In some cases, dog owners are punished appropriately. Yesterday, for example, Christopher Ownbey of Independece, Montana, was sentenced to one year in jail because his bull mastiff mauled Steven and Kristi McBee as they were taking a walk. (Click here to read the article.)
Much of the time, however, dog owners receive merely the proverbial slap on the wrist for these crimes. Two days ago, Thomas O’Halloran of Towson, Maryland, the owner of a pit bull that mauled 9-year-old Scottie Mason and 11-year-old Dominic Solesky — severing a major artery, lacerating the boy’s face, and inflicting life-threatening injuries on him — got off with a five-year suspended sentence and two years of probation. The charge was reckless endangerment of a minor. (Click here for the article.)
Because dog bite law is a combination of state, county and city law, there are many permutations that lead to inconsistent results in the criminal as well as the civil courts. One of my goals has been to establish some uniformity throughout the USA so that people and dogs are treated fairly and will know what to expect, no matter where they find themselves. After all, dogs will be dogs, regardless of where they live.