Two local lawmakers have drafted a bill that would harshly penalize owners of dogs who bite other people.
In response to the vicious multiple dog attack of a Alcorn County jogger last year, Reps. Nick Bain and Lester “Bubba” Carpenter – both Republicans representing Alcorn County – have jointly filed House Bill 80 to help regulate and provide penalties for those dogs with a history of bitting.
The bill states any person who intentionally or negligently allows their dog to escape from their home or yard and bite, wound or inflict physical injury on another human shall be guilty of a felony and could be subject to fines or jail time.
The fines would be no less than $1,000 and no more than $5,000 and jail time could be up to three years. If a dog kills or bodily disfigures someone, the owner could face up to 25 years for each count. A person convicted of a first and second offense within five years could see up to a $10,000 fine and jail time for up to 10 years.
Bain calls it accountability for the dog owners.
“We want to do whatever is necessary to try to prevent this from happening again,” he said.
It was 2020 Alcorn Central High School valedictorian Tess Lancaster who was attacked by five pit bull dogs as she jogged down Alcorn County Road 173 in August 2020. U.S. Postal Service employee Abby Puckett was nearby and recused Lancaster, who was severely hurt in the attack. The dogs were euthanized. Currently there is no charge that can be brought in the event a dog causes great bodily harm to an individual in a negligence case.
“It was sad that this tragic event happened in our county that led to this legislation being drafted,” Carpenter told the Daily Corinthian. “I am honored to be co-author of and look forward to watching this make it through the process.”
On Wednesday, the bill passed out of the House Judiciary B Committee chaired by Bain.
“This bill isn’t aimed at allowing a dog owner to be convicted whose dog was protecting its home or person from a break-in or another human attack – this bill will however give those who are on the receiving end of a intentional dog attack a voice,” said Bain. “It is a law greatly needed in this state.”
The bill now heads to the full House for debate. If passed by House members, the Senate will get a turn at debating the bill before going to governor to sign into law.