Raleigh Judge: Pit Bull Attack Wasn’t Assault
Posted on Feb 28, 2010
Should North Carolina dog bite laws be changed? One judge in Wake County believes so. This month, Raleigh judge Ken Titus ruled on a pit bull attack case involving a small child – while he said that the animal attack was not assault with a deadly weapon, he also commented that NC dog bite laws should change to better protect dog bite victims in Wake County.
The dog attack incident took place in Raleigh in March 2009, when the two pet pit bulls of 23-year-old Anthony Whitfield attacked six-year-old Isaiah Hardy. The small boy was rushed to the hospital with 42 bites, puncture wounds, and lacerations covering his body, hands, and face – a mauling which took a month to recover from.
For the first time in state history, Whitfield was charged with assault with a deadly weapon in the wake of the pit bull attack. The prosecution argued that the dogs had killed a cat in the past and were known to be dangerous. The defense argued that a dog cannot be seen as a deadly weapon and that the man did not intend to harm anyone.
Judge Titus ruled that Whitfield was not willfully negligent and could not be charged with felony assault. However, the judge also said that dog attacks like Hardy’s are truly tragic and that irresponsible dog owners should face harsher consequences under North Carolina law. Hardy’s family was upset that Whitfield will not get prison time for his role in the small boy’s serious dog attack.
Whitfield could now face a dog bite lawsuit in civil court.