RI senator pushes for vicious dog bill - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

RI Senator pushes for vicious dog bill

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By: Alexandra Cowley

acowley@abc6.com

A Coventry mother speaks out, after her daughter was bit in the face by a neighbor's pit bull. 200 stitches and nearly a year later, she is still swimming in medical bills. Now, a state senator is taking up the seemingly more prevalent issue of dog attacks.

There's a tension between two neighbors on Viola Street in Coventry. On Mother's Day weekend last year, Debbie Johnson and her then 8–year–old daughter Emma, were at a friends house around the corner. Emma was feeding their dog Roxy some treats.

"The dog ran out of treats jumped up and bit her in the face. It was horrible, horrible, worst day of my life, worst day of my life,"Johnson said.

Emma needed 200 stitches and reconstructive surgery on parts of her nose and upper lip. Even now, Emma is too embarrassed to show us her face.

"She's seen a psychologist, it's not ok," said Johnson.

The case went to Coventry Municipal Court, where a judge ordered the owners pay a 250 dollar fine, the case was closed, because the pit bull had no prior attacks.

The owners refused to talk to us.

Johnson said, "Something has to be done where that dog doesn't have as much rights as it does now."

Rhode Island State Senator Chris Ottiano has been working on a vicious dog bill to hold owners responsible for their dog's actions.

"The key problem being before a first episode happens, a dog can't be declared vicious, so how do we get in front of the problem," said Ottiano.

The bill would require dog owners with vicious breeds to have insurance, the dog be kept in a fenced in area, and maybe even a muzzle while in public.

It's small comfort, but surely better than nothing for victims.

Ottiano hopes to introduce his new bill  during the next session.

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