Texas Criminal Dog Bite Law Passes House

Texas is on its way to imposing the nation’s harshest penalties against irresponsible dog owners, while continuing to turn its back upon the victims of dog bites.

Texas House Bill 1355 (the Gattis bill) says dog owners will face a 3rd degree felony if their dog critically injures someone. And if the victim dies it raises it to a 2nd degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Yet, the state is doing nothing about the “one-bite rule,” which protects a dog owner from civil liability to a dog bite victim until the dog has already bitten a person or shown the tendency to bite someone. The one bite rule was created in the 1600s by English judges for English villagers who allowed goats, pigs and other animals to roam in and out of their houses. The one bite rule is inappropriate for modern Texas and it is cruel to dog bite victims. (For more, see The One Bite Rule.)

When will Texans wake up and demand a full cup of justice from irresponsible dog owners? Putting one in jail is fine, but does absolutely nothing for the injured victim. The state needs a dog bite law that imposes strict civil liability upon dog owners when their dogs bite someone, allowing the victims to recover full compensation for economic damages as well as pain and suffering.