Amend "One Bite Law" to SAVE dogs of negligent owners, & PREVENT the 2nd ending a life...
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WHY I am fighting for this much needed change to this law/NEW Bill. My 5 year old's story, & ambition as a parent and animal owner to protect BOTH.
After having a nightmare of our own personal experience in reference to the "One Bite Law" currently in place in our state of Indiana involving a criminal/negligence case with our 5 year old child and an irresponsible at home childcare provider (I will go into more specific detail on further into my proposal), one thing I have been thinking and doing my research on is seeing a MUCH needed change to an extremely outdated law used in many US states. In addition to the pain as a parent, a family, we have all experienced for my son, the pain my 5 year old should have NEVER had to deal with. And scariest of all, what this COULD mean for said animal who was simply victim to irresponsible choices of the owner. Yes we have already taken legal action in addition to helping in a launched investigation called upon by Animal Control with Children Services on this certain childcare provider/owner of this animal. One thing this WONT do, is stopping this from happening to another child. It wont stop an animal in this, or other cases to be deemed "dangerous" under false pretense of a responsible owner, or an animal to be put back into a negligent owner's care to have that "second bite" not only be the last strike for said dog, but to be the one that ENDS an innocent life. After much time thinking as well as research into this matter, I have come up with a proposal to change the standpoint of this law.
History and Facts on the One Bite Law
There is currently a law originally created HUNDREDS of years ago that has been adopted by many states across the United States that has come to be known as the "One Bite Law". This law is in reference to an animal biting/injuring the victim, and what this means for the responsible party/victim of said animal. Here is a little history on said law, and what it means for the owners, as well as the victims involved in these cases:
The "One Bite Law" was introduced centuries ago in England. In this time era, it was considered completely "normal" for dogs, sheep, pigs, goats, ect to aimlessly wander a town. This time period it was created was also a time that...
1. There was no homeowner's/renter's insurance.
2. It was NOT illegal for your animal to go on another person's property, or have that person or another KILL your animal if need be.
3. A time before any animal cruelty laws had been established.
At this time centuries ago, the Judges announced: The owner of a domestic animal would NOT be held liable until it bit someone first. Meaning people did not have any reason or means to take responsibility for their animals. Why? When there was NO CONSEQUENCES until AFTER a tragedy occurred.
HOW this law presents itself today & My Son's Story. An inside look of how this effects a victim in 2017:
One would think, that a law created centuries ago under such ridiculous pretenses would have been updated and changed in todays day and age. Sadly, that is not completely the case. In 2017, as I said many states across the US uphold this law.
In short, this means:
"The one bite rule tells people that it is OKAY for their animal to bite someone, ONCE. That they are not responsible for it, that there is no consequences for when it happens. They can look away, shrug it off, forget about it.
The "one bite" rule has been roundly criticised by scholars and appellate judges, who have called for its repeal. "A dog should have no greater right to a first bite than one has to a first murder. And as between the dog owner and a blameless victim, the owner is almost certainly in the better position to judge the dog's proclivity to bite. Yet, under the ‘first bite' paradigm, one may be subjected, without recourse, to an animal's first attack, and that animal's owner has little incentive to guard against this potentially deadly event.
" Ruffin, J, concurring specially in Clark, et al., v. Joiner, 242 Ga. App. 421 (2000)." -Courtesy of dogbitelaw.com, which can be researched and cited same under multiple websites and organizations.
Sure, an owner may face a fine. Or loose their animal for a short time for quarantine, but what does this mean for that potential second victim as well as the first one?
Welcome to our nightmare. On the afternoon of April 4, 2017 at 2:38pm I received a frantic phone call at work from my child care providers helper. She stated that I needed to come to the residence asap, and that an ambulance needed to be called. When asking what happened to my child, I was told my oldest son, Mason Ozanich (age 5) was in the backyard alone with other children when they all came running to the back door screaming. Mason had been attacked by a dog in the face, he was inconsolable, unable to communicate. Screaming, crying, and bleeding everywhere. As a mother, my heart shattered with anger and fear for my son. Largely because, WE WERE NOT AWARE THIS DOG WE LATER FOUND OUT WAS A LAB/GERMAN SHEPPARD MIX WAS EVEN LIVING AT THE HOME! Never seen, never heard, we had only had this "Home Daycare" for two months after our longtime sitter suffered a severe head trauma. My fiancé and I sat in the hospital with our son and his younger brother (2) as we watched him sit in shock, was held down by 4 adults just to simply examine his face as he screamed in pain. We had come to find out his bottom laceration from the bite has went completely through his entire layer of skin, the top laceration across his nose was pretty deep. Had this been any deeper in terms of the top laceration my son would have most likely had his nose torn off. Had the bottom fangs entered his skin any lower instead of the bottom portion of his face near bottom chin.....it would have been his neck.
Due to the severity of the injury, it was deemed the Nurse Practitioner ran to much of a risk to perform the procedure meaning a plastic surgeon was rushed in to make sure my son was able to keep the shape of his nose after a series of stitches. During this ordeal, Children Services met us at the hospital called in by Animal Control due to the concern of being cited in the official report "10+ kids were counted as well as OTHERS that were heard yet not seen on top of that, that she noted were unattended just in the time she was at the residence." What's even more disturbing in this report? The helper had reported that the main sitter was NOT EVEN HOME at the time of the UNSUPERVISED attack on my son, BUT it WAS verified by a 6 year old witness the same thing my son had told me......he was sitting there just petting this dog, when it turned on him and attacked. My son now has a follow up with a plastic surgeon, may face sinus issues later in life, we have to worry about the scarring which will be documented by our attorney over the months/years, in addition to hoping it heals well with no infection, worrying about further surgeries, and hoping that the work done so far maintains the shape of his nose. THAT is just the physical/medical aspect of what we have faced. This doesn't count the little boy at the store asking him out loud "WHATS WRONG WITH YOUR FACE?" The sadness he will sometimes go through looking into the mirror asking me to please make it go away. Or the fear of the filters and judgements of classmates after Spring Break returning tomorrow. As much as we hope and expect kindness, and understanding in our ideal society- the truth of the matter is preschoolers have NO filters. There are so, so, SO many things WRONG with this entire situation.
-WHY were these kids unattended PERIOD....and with a large dog?!
-WHY would the main sitter allegedly LEAVE (which is now coming to light has left other times as well) leaving the helper with THIS MANY kids under her responsibility which is completely against Indiana guidelines in terms of ratio for daycare safety.
The list goes on....but as I said, the report confirms "He was sitting, petting this dog. When the dog suddenly turned on him". Which is most likely why animal control also put in this report : I told (insert name here) that there's no wonder this child was bit with so many children and lack of supervision." I am not mad at this dog, I am mad at the poor decisions made that day by THE ONES RESPONSIBLE which LEAD to THIS. So what does this series of obvious events showing whos at fault mean in terms of the "One Bite Law" effecting my child's justice in this case?
For our Attorney, or any Attorney dealing with the "One Bite Law"- Having to prove, based on this breed that this dog is "dangerous". (In this case, whos to say it is? Clearly the other facts point to someone else being at fault here. Maybe it is actually dangerous to suddenly TURN on a child, to be never told about to us/seen when in home.) Or maybe, this dog is subjected to the wrong behaviors by others that is provoking this vicious behavior to suddenly do this for no reason.)
In terms of the Dog, the scariest concept of all- Animal control seized this dog at the time of the attack on April 4th, according to the official report the officer was NOT comfortable allowing the dog to complete quarantine in the home with the things cited she witnessed, and large amount of daycare children as well as her own children in the home after this incident. SO, the dog will sit in quarantine until April 14th. To my shock, due to this incident happening on private property whether Animal Control agrees or not, the owner/childcare provider at that time will have the option to pay fees signed on and COME PICK UP THE DOG. To take BACK to the home, with all of these children being exposed under clear lack of proper supervision to both the animal and children. However as cited, they may/may not due to the liability. Leaving this dog either homeless stuck in a shelter, or euthanized all due to bad choices and an injured child caused by the owner and one responsible for the safety of my child.
This terrifies me, and makes me very concerned for these other children. As well as concerned to knowing if this dog I DO NOT KNOW OR HAVE SEEN is REALLY a dangerous animal, or is just in the wrong home and is now paying the price. Thinking of these factors as a mother never wanting to see this happen to another child or animal again- here is what I have come up with.
Apealing the "One Bite Law" to protect EVERYONE and PREVENT tragedy
Here is my proposal to the new updates to be made to this law, an or replacement of this Bill I am addressing as "Mason's Law".
ex: My sons story. A child is bit while at daycare under the caretaker's responsibility, as well as the dog responsible for attack. Also, being the caretaker/animal owner.
- Victim attacked under no supervision or other case that can be proved in any scenario that resulted as failure to create a safe environment via owner of animal.
* As initially stated, we do not know if the animal's in these cases are actually DANGEROUS animals. They may very well be, so allowing that second bite to even potentially take place is just asking for a tragedy! In the SAME token, if this is a scenario of an animal being mistreated which is starting to cause vicious behavior in a once friendly, timid animal- WHY should they be the one to have the ultimate consequence for behaviorisms learned based on the way they are treated themselves when they CAN NOT speak for themselves????
Resolution, one of 3 things can happen. First, an event taking place where the owner itself was safely protecting their animal from any injury to others- but however was provoked due to the negligence of a third unwelcomed and or mistreating party we will call "One Bite Occurance" and will be further described in terms of changes and standpoint below. The goal here- protect responsible owners and the defamation to their pets /own reputation and responsibility due to a incident that was not at fault of home owner. The other two possibilities in this law first involves quarantine AUTOMATICALLY being done with animal control to prevent anymore potential injury. At the time the animal is now being quarantined, the warden or other qualified party will spend time with particular animal. Record observations, take into consideration based on incident report how/why this happened, and if animal was provoked/snapped/ are there children or others at risk in the home. Based on these factors, the animal will be tested in a series of ways to assess further if there is any sign of underlying aggression that is triggered. At the end of this time period, the animal in question is either deemed 'DANGEROUS' or "Safe to Proper Home (SPH)" What do each of these two outcomes mean?
One Bite Occurrence (OBO)- This revision is put into place to protect both the animal in question and owner in terms of situations that were clearly caused by the poor choice or purposeful provocation of third party that CAUSE an animal to revert to their instinct to protect themselves in the situation where they feel threatened by harm, or to protect caregivers/family members. These situations can include but are not limited too: break ins, person/person(s) entering property without consent or invitation unknowingly, a person whom chooses to commit harm onto an animal with no probable cause (not in self defense but to strictly mistreat animal) and or cause harm to owner/occupants of home causing the instinct to protect to take effect. In terms of minors, the reasonability would fall on the guardian and or party responsible for said child at time of incident. Which would have it then fall due to this into the one of two categories below. In all other cases not involving minor child, the party who committed what would be considered animal abuse, abuse, trespassing, or some other type of behavior that would be considered invasion of privacy or other inappropriate action would NOT be able to submit any legal charges against the owner. A countersuit in this case would be very much possible.
Safe to Proper Home (SPH)- The animal during quarantine after much observation, series of test, and incident report analyzed is deemed a well rounded animal that is simply not being put in the proper situations to not feel threatened to revert to ones natural instincts to protect themselves. In short, failure of the owner and or not a safe living situation for said animal to return without risk of a second incident. At this time, the dog would be surrendered to the Animal Control to be sent to a no-kill shelter or whatever is deemed appropriate state to state so that this animal has a second chance at a forever home. In the same aspect, the animal is not placed back where this aggression originated with no explanation (i.e suddenly snapping and attacking an innocent victim) With the rules in place this animal is NOT able to be adopted by any immediate family members at the risk of this animal ending up illegally right back to where this all began.
Dangerous- After looking into the incident report, analyzing the animal in question, spending one on one time and performing a series of test, this animal shows too many signs of aggression with a high possibility in this case of having a second incident. Rather than put innocent people in harms way, allowing a second chance to even HAPPEN- the animal is euthanized.
In conclusion, the first step to changing a law in Indiana is starting a petition. Once enough of the public agree, finding a legislator that also agrees to the new bill/revision to present to the House and voted for/against. My goal here is protect the loving, responsible animal owners, giving those who cannot speak for themselves a chance to have a forever home in a better, stable environment, and to prevent any child, teen, adult for being that "second bite" that causes lasting lifelong changes.....or loss of a life all together.
Many Indiana laws have been taken in to effect or changed all because one group or person felt so strongly about an issue they presented their proposal and made a positive change for todays society. My hope is that even with revision I will one day see "Mason's law" take effect and save and greatly impact for the greater good both mankind and animal alike. As a mother, if this simple rule saves ONE single life- it is more than worth it, Please sign, pass along, and share this story and petition with all possible. This needs to be changed and I will strongly stand behind it making sure it goes EXACTLY where it needs to be.
Krystyna M. Ozanich
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