When your neighbor's dog breaks through the boundary fence, charges and your backyard and viciously mauls your child, the last thing you expect, especially after a "dog court" conviction of the neighbor and his ferocious animal, is to see the same dog crashing against the same fence a week after judgment is entered. Without laws to prevent it, however, this horrific situation is exactly what many dog bite victims face even before the bandages are off. Here is an e-mail message from a mother whose son was mauled recently:
My son was attacked by a neighbor's dog in January 2011. He received 5 bites over his thighs, hip and buttocks. The pediatrician documented 17 teeth marks. The owners pled nolo contendere [no contest] in court and paid fines for 3 charges. They assured the solicitor that the dog would not be returned to the neighborhood. Our number 1 concern was to maintain a safe neighborhood for our children. With their removal of the dog, we felt we had this so did not pursue them civilly.
In September 2011 the dog was back. When they brought the dog back, I was absolutely shocked. Not just at their poor decision but that we had no legal recourse. If my son had been attacked by a person, I could get a restraining order. We have had to endure this dog for months now! The threat of the dog completely changed our lives. The owners have just this weekend removed it again and only because I called our commissioner. The dog had rammed its backyard fence so hard trying to attack the kids that it busted out 2 planks. After 2 investigators come out to talk to the owners, they finally decided to move the dog, at least for now.
I would love to see a law that prevented dogs that have attacked from being allowed to live next to their victims again. There is no law for this unless the dog attacks again! Another law that would be great, at a minimum, a law that owners of dogs that have attacked be required to inform victims when the dog is being returned home. The owners did not even to bother calling us to warn us that the dog was returning after being gone for several months. My son was yet again traumatized when he was playing outside and the dog charged the fence at him. If I had at least known they were bringing the dog back, I could have kept him on the other side of the neighborhood and warned him.
She suggests two laws: one preventing the dog from returning to the place where it gained access to the victim, and another requiring the dog's owner to provide notice if the dog is coming back. These would be great improvements to the dog laws of our cities and counties.