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Is Texas 'One Bite Law' fair to dog bite victims?

By Jennifer Kendall, jkendall@ktxs.com
Published On: Sep 23 2013 09:44:06 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 24 2013 11:45:06 AM CDT
ABILENE, Texas -

Since the 1970s, Texas has followed the "one bite law." That law says that the victim of a dog bite will only receive compensation from the dog’s owner if the dog previously bit someone or if it was known to be dangerous.

Alexis Nelson has three dogs and would like to have more. Nelson said she feels that the actions of her animals are her own responsibility.

"I feel that if you're going to take on the responsibility of having a dog I feel that you should be able to make sure that it's safe around everything and everyone," said Nelson.

State law reads differently, at least the first time around. Texas is one of 18 states where the owner can not be held liable the first time their dog bites someone. At least not if the owner has no reason to believe the dog might attack and if no local laws, like leash laws, have been violated.

 It’s a law that some said is warranted.

"It could be an accident. A good dog could be out and somebody pesters the dog or irritates or does something to them or tries to throw a rock at them and then the dog’s going to react," another Abilene dog owner said.

However, animal control officer Joe Helm said Abilene has a stricter ordinance covering dog bites.

"The owner’s responsible for any damages that the animal does to a victim or a vehicle or anything like that," said Helm.

According to Abilene Animal Control there have been about 300 animal bites so far this year. Officer Helm said most of those are dog bites.