House Passes "Felicity's Law" Hoping to Protect Children from Vicious Dog Attacks
Felicity was a two-year-old-girl from Grant County who wandered away alone from a birthday party and was viciously attacked by two dogs. It took repeated surgeries for her to recover from her injuries. Because there was no criminal negligence on the part of the dogs’ owners, no legal action could be taken by her parents in a criminal or private case under current law according to the W. Va. Supreme Court of Appeals.
House Bill 2752, or "Felicity's Law," would change this.
“Currently, West Virginia law does not provide a statute that gives rise to a private cause of action for the humane destruction of a vicious or dangerous dog that attacks a person,” said Delegate Isaac Sponaugle of Pendleton County.
“This law will correct that action. It provides that if a person is attacked and the result of their injuries are greater than $1000 or if a dog has attacked two or more people in the past two years, then an individual may go to the magistrate court and file a petition to have a humane officer put down the dog.”
Some delegates, while agreeing the bill should be passed, voiced concerns that the bill would prevent dogs from protecting their owners. However, the House Judiciary Committee felt victims who were trespassing at the time of the attack would not be protected by this law. The bill states those seeking relief under this article must affirm the petitioner was not at fault under the attack.
The House passed the bill unanimously and it now moves on to the Senate.