AUSTIN -- Owners of dogs that violently attack someone could face up to 20 years in prison under a bill approved today by the Texas Senate.
The plan would charge a dog owner with a third-degree felony if the animal makes an unprovoked attack and seriously injures the victim.
Conviction would be punishable by two to 10 years in prison and
a possible $10,000 fine. If the victim dies, the crime would be a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
The House sponsor is Representative Dan Gattis of Georgetown. If the House approves changes made by the Senate, the measure could end up on Governor Rick Perry's desk next week.
Current law calls for punishments for owners ranging from a $500 fine to one year in jail. For an owner to be charged, the dog must have been classified as dangerous from a previous incident - a provision critics call "one free bite."
The measure approved Thursday would charge the owner after the first attack.