Oklahoma state Rep. Paul Wesselhöft, R-Moore, said he'll be introducing legislation again pitting him against his most-disliked dog breed: the pit bull.
The legislator's dogged pursuit has him announcing proposed legislation that would make it r-r-rough on the owners of vicious dogs which bite hard enough to cause injury, according to a release from his office.
"This marks a paradigm shift, a dramatic change, in canine jurisprudence," said Wesselhöft. "If passed, this law will become model legislation for other states that have been plagued with vicious dog attacks, especially from the pit bull breed."
Wesselhoft's previous attempts to pass legislation against allowing ownership of pit bulls got pounded by critics, which he noted in his release.
"Pit bull breeders have voraciously criticized me for picking on their innocent breed and not going after the owner; so now, I am going after the owners," Wesselhöft said.
He said prosecutors in Oklahoma consider the "first bite is free" until a dog is proven dangerous due to a documented attack. Until such, owners generally can't be held criminally liable.
But Wesselhöft's bill would make it a felony for owners of dogs that maul, maim or kill on the first attack. The owner of a dog that causes serious injury after an unprovoked attack would face a year in prison, with a fatal attack garnering the owner prison time for an extended period. Both offenses would carry fines of $10,000.
There would be an exception for non-injury attacks, he said.
"Little Fluffy and Fido don't get on the 'doggy's most wanted list' for something as innocent as an errant nip or a playful bite," he said. "I don't want to criminalize every dog bite. I want to deal with the truly dangerous animals that people have failed to take responsibility for that are wreaking havoc throughout our state." "Ben Fenwick