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Shelter urges veto of dog euthanasia bill

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Kanawha Charleston Humane Association is calling on Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to veto a bill that seeks the humane destruction of dogs that attack humans.

House Bill 2757, or "Felicity's Law," would allow for the euthanasia of dogs that attack a person causing injury or damages in the amount of $1,000 or greater.

The bill was drafted and passed in an effort to protect the public, according to language in the legislation. But animal rights supporters say some dogs just don't like strangers and people, not dogs, are to blame for injury.

"No way. My dog would bite you several times if you get to close to her and she doesn't know you," Judy Wright posted to the shelter's Facebook page. "And obviously, that would be your fault if she eats you up not hers."

Others argue the severity of the attack should be evaluated before any action is taken.

"The 'attacks' should be evaluated," Andrea Groves posted. "Each incident is not the same."

One woman posted about how her toddler was attacked by a Doberman. Her child required staples and stitches, and the dog soon attacked another child. She said the legislation is needed.

"Not saying all dog bites are like this one but I think something should be put on the table for situations like this," Polly Meadows posted.

Opponents of the bill argue the $1,000 threshold is not high enough, as the costs of doctor's visits, trips to the emergency room or medicine to treat the wound would add up quickly.

"Doctor's offices charge about $175-$300 just for a visit depending on where you go," Jessica Ball posted. "Add in the cost of preventative antibiotics, tests, or stitches and you are looking at least at $800. They overcharge, and that will lead to innocent animals (being euthanized.)"

The Kanawha Charleston Humane Association said one of its staffers was bit by a cat. A trip to MedExpress cost the staffer $937, and the bite did not require stitches.

The provisions of the bill do not apply if the petitioner was at fault in the attack. The petitioner must have been attacked unprovoked with injuries resulting in medical costs of $1,000 or more, or the person was attacked by a dog and the dog had been engaged in a separate attack within the previous 24 months. The petitioner must provide "clear and convincing evidence" of the attack.

The law gets its name from 2-year-old Felicity, the victim of a dog attack. Her parents sought relief under state code providing for the destruction of vicious dogs. However, the state Supreme Court denied the relief, saying the code provision allows for the destruction of a dog as the result of a criminal proceeding and does not authorize a private cause of action. House Bill 2757 would change that.

The bill passed both the House and Senate but has not yet been reported to the governor.

Contact writer Whitney Burdette at 304-348-7939 or whitney.burdette@dailymailwv.com. Follow her at www.Twitter.com/wburdette_DM.


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