The Moore American

Local News

January 9, 2008

Wesselhoft back with dog legislation

OKLAHOMA CITY — Despite two previous legislative setbacks, state Rep. Paul Wesselhoft confirmed this week he would again author legislation to prevent attacks by vicious dogs.

Wesselhoft’s previous bills — written in 2006 and 2007 — attempted to outlaw pit bull dogs, and would have allowed communities to outlaw dog breeds they considered a public health risk. Both bills were put down by legislative committees.

This year, the Moore Republican said, he plans to write a proposal which is “non-breed specific.”

“This bill is modeled after similar legislation which passed in Texas,” he said. “It passed their Legislature and was signed by the governor.”

In Texas, Wesselhoft said, lawmakers approved the legislation “because three or four adults were killed by pit bull attacks.”

“They had many maulings by pit bull, so they developed legislation which was non-breed specific.”

Wesselhoft said his new proposal could make a dog’s “first-bite” a felony.

“If a dog gets off its property and if that dog attacks someone and if that attack is serious — that is if a prudent person would seek medical help — then my legislation calls for making that attack a felony offense with a mandatory 20 days in jail,” he said.

Wesselhoft said a serious attack would include deep, penetrating wounds, torn muscles or a wound requiring sutures.

“My bill will make people hesitate when purchasing pit bulls because it would be a felony if the dog bit someone,” he said. “You will think twice before you buy.”

Should the bill become law, Wesselhoft said he hoped it would “dramatically” reduce the state’s pit bull population.

“It will make people think,” he said. “And I hope it will reduce the number of attacks.”

At least twice, since 2004, Wesselhoft has authored legislation to outlaw pit bulls. Both times his bills have failed to make it out of the House of Representatives.

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