Bad dog! State launches online registry for dangerous dogs
Now, anyone on the planet can learn about Dee Dee, a seven-year-old pit bull mix from Roanoke, and her owner, as a new online registry includes their complete address and phone number. Dee Dee was convicted of escaping from her enclosure and killing a neighbor's Persian cat. The same goes for Rex and his owner in Lynchburg, who attacked another dog; and Cody and his owner in Ashburn, who bit a neighbor.
"It was prompted by the case in Spotsylvania County, where an elderly woman and her dog were mauled," says VDACS spokesperson Elaine Lidholm, "...and then became part of comprehensive new regulations as part of the 2006 legislative session."
In 2005, 82-year old Dorothy Sullivian and her Shih Tzu, Buttons, were killed in their own yard by three roaming pit bulls in Partlow. After a three-day trial, dog owner Deana Large became the first person in Virginia to be convicted of manslaughter for the crimes of their pets, as two of the roaming pit bulls proved to be hers. In addition to the Dangerous Dog Registry, the new legislation requires dangerous-dog owners to have approved enclosures, to post signs on their property, and to spay or neuter the animal. The dog must also wear a special tag and be identified with a tattoo or electronic chip, and the owner must maintain a $100,000 liability insurance policy on the animal. If the owner takes the dog off the property, it must be on a leash and wear a muzzle.
Unfortunately, Dee Dee, Rex, and Cody represent a third of the dogs listed on the site, as Lidholm says only 9 dogs have been registered so far. Indeed, there are no dogs listed in Nelson, Fluvanna, Louisa, and Albemarle counties, or in Charlottesville and Staunton. Of course, Lidholm expects more dogs to be registered as communities learn to use the system, and she wants to remind localities that they must first register and obtain a PIN number to access the system.
"Anyone just can't go in and list a dog they think is dangerous," she says. "The dog has to be convicted in a court, and local animal control officials must enter the information."