For Students

LightspanHere are some of the most controversial and important cases and issues in dog bite law. These topics are for students in high school, college or law school who wish to write about dogs and the law.

When should a dog owner be convicted of murder? When is a dog attack an accident, and when is it a crime? In 2013, a pit bull owner has been accused of murder in The Pamela Devitt Murder Case (People v. Alex Jackson). It is not the first time that murder charges have been filed against dog owners. The famous San Francisco dog mauling case, called The Diane Whipple case (People v. Knoller), changed the law in California. And the Texas case, called The Lilian Stiles case (Texas v. Jose Hernandez), changed the law in Texas. Read about them, along with Attorney Kenneth Phillips’ opinions, and then make up your own mind.

Should pit bulls be banned? Read the arguments pro and con at Breed Specific Laws on this web site. Then read Mr. Phillips’ commentary, Canine Homicides and the Dog Bite Epidemic: Do Not Confuse Them, and his 10-point plan for Preventing Dog Bites.

What should an ideal dog law say? Many cities have “dangerous dog laws.” These laws enable the authorities to take a bad dog away from its owners, or even have it euthanized. Many laws also can prevent a bad dog owner from having a dog in the future. What is the correct balance between the rights of the community and the rights of dog owners? Debate the provisions of Attorney Kenneth Phillips’ Model Dog Bite Laws.

Read about famous dog bite cases: The Diane Whipple case (People v. Knoller). The Lilian Stiles case (Texas v. Jose Hernandez).

Read thought-provoking news articles

On July 7, 2011, a pit bull owner in Ohio was convicted of felonious assault after his dog mauled a 12-year-old boy. The man faces 11 years in prison. (Read the story.)

On June 21, 2011, pit bulls attacked children in a playground, shots were fired, and a 7-year-old boy was critically injured with facial wounds. An incredible story of horror and bravery can be read here.

On June 11, 2011, roaming dogs ripped off the right arm, partially tore off the left arm, and severely lacerated the face of 74-year-old Roy McSweeney in Hawthore, Florida. (Read the story.)