Also of note, there was no news coverage of the boy's mauling. The mauling did not become news until it was found that a pit bull might be found legally vicious and might be put down after attacking a dog and seriously mauling a boy.
A reading of the Chicago Tribune's news story reveals how ridiculously difficult and rare it is to have a pit bull declared vicious.
Illinois' dangerous an vicious dog laws were written by lobbyist and head of the Pit Bull Initiatives at Best Friends Animal Society Ledy VanKavage who has said that the way the law is written, it is purposefully difficult to safeguard a neighborhood by getting an obviously vicious dog legally declared vicious. "Under Illinois law, it is very easy to get a dog declared dangerous. Not vicious. That's a much more involved procedure involving the court system." Note that local officials must involve the State's Attorney with a full blown investigation and file a complaint in circuit court just to have a dog that has viciously attacked be declared vicious. It is no wonder that some municipalities choose not to initiate an investigation.
(510 ILCS 5/15) (from Ch. 8, par. 365)
Sec. 15. (a) In order to have a dog deemed "vicious", the Administrator, Deputy Administrator, or law enforcement officer must give notice of the infraction that is the basis of the investigation to the owner, conduct a thorough investigation, interview any witnesses, including the owner, gather any existing medical records, veterinary medical records or behavioral evidence, and make a detailed report recommending a finding that the dog is a vicious dog and give the report to the States Attorney's Office and the owner. The Administrator, State's Attorney, Director or any citizen of the county in which the dog exists may file a complaint in the circuit court in the name of the People of the State of Illinois to deem a dog to be a vicious dog. Testimony of a certified applied behaviorist, a board certified veterinary behaviorist, or another recognized expert may be relevant to the court's determination of whether the dog's behavior was justified. The petitioner must prove the dog is a vicious dog by clear and convincing evidence. The Administrator shall determine where the animal shall be confined during the pendency of the case
Here is an exerpt from a 2006 article about the 2003 changes to Illinois law:
Lawmakers three years ago changed the standard of proof in vicious-dogRead more:
cases from preponderance of evidence to clear and convincing evidence. The difference can be huge. “Preponderance” meant that the doggie cops needed to show it was more likely than not that a dog needed confinement — if 51 percent of the evidence is against a dog, it loses. “‘Clear and convincing’ is 70 percent,” Carey says. The folks who pick up the carcasses and impound the biters and sometimes wield the euthanizing needle say that they don’t have enough discretion or power. Largent and other animal-control officers are asking lawmakers to restore their authorityto declare a dog vicious and order it confined. They say that it’s too difficult to get a dog declared vicious in Illinois. “If you look at the Animal Control Act, there’s an almost infinitenumber of excuses that could be conjured up by an owner to prevent a dog from being declared vicious,” Largent says.
Illinois Times, February 02 2006
Illinois Times, February 02 2006
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