Deadly Pit Bull Attack Highlights Weak NC Dog Bite Laws

Posted on Feb 04, 2009
The reported a deadly dog-on-dog attack in Kitty Hawk, NC that involved two neighborhood pit bulls and two family dogs. The story raises issues about North Carolina dog bite laws and how dogs are treated in the wake of attacking another dog or person.

The attack involved couple who own a Labrador retriever and a bichon fries. Their dogs are fenced and have access to both the yard and the house while the couple is at work. On Monday, however, two pit bulls entered the yard and attacked. A neighbor, seeing a pit bull covered in blood in the couple's backyard, discovered the Lab dead in a pool of blood inside the house and the bichon fries hiding. The two female pit bulls, Shine and Isabelle, were brought to the animal shelter.  

What happened next has outraged many local residents: the owner of the two pit bulls was able to bring the two pit bulls home from the Dare County Animal Shelter after paying a small $25 fee and receiving a citation from the Kitty Hawk Police. The dogs had also been picked up for wandering lose in December.

The dogs cannot be kept from the public in any way due to North Carolina Dog Bite laws, which protect potentially dangerous dogs and their owners instead of victims and potential victims. North Carolina is one of the few remaining "one-bite law" states and has no power over controlling dogs who have not been labeled "potentially dangerous." Even if the pit bulls had attacked a child instead of another animal, they would have entered a 10-day quarantine and then been released.

If the dogs bit someone a second time, the consequences would be different, and the owner's liablity increases.