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38 McGeorge L. Rev. 230 (2007)
A Dog's Best Friend: California's New Animal Cruelty Protections

handle is hein.journals/mcglr38 and id is 250 raw text is: A Dog's Best Friend: California's New Animal Cruelty
Robert D. Roth
Code Section Affected
Health and Safety Code § 122335 (new).
SB 1578 (Lowenthal); 2006 STAT. Ch. 489.
Dogs are known as man's best friend, but even a dog can turn vicious when
not treated with respect.' Dogs bite approximately 4.7 million people each year in
this country.2 With over 800,000 of these bites requiring medical attention,3
media accounts of dog attacks are consistent and widespread across the country.4
One scholar even argues that dog bites are reaching epidemic proportions.5
For instance, while the dog population increased only two percent between 1986
and 1996, the number of dog bites requiring medical attention rose thirty-seven
percent.,6 Also, dog bites are a leading cause of non-fatal injuries; approximately
960 people visit emergency rooms every day seeking medical treatment due to
serious dog bites.7
In recent years, media coverage of dog bite incidents has heightened public
fear of certain dog breeds, such as Pit Bulls.8 Accordingly, many governmental
attempts to curb dog bites focus on particular breeds by regulating or banning
1. See Cynthia Hubert, Danger on a Chain: Animal Advocates Say Tethering Dogs Leads to Misery,
Aggression-And Perils for People, SACRAMENTO BEE, June 26, 2006, at El (arguing that dog bites and attacks
are to be expected when dogs are isolated because [i]f you treat [dogs] with no respect, that's what you'll get
2. Center for Disease Control, Spotlight on Dog Bite Prevention Week, http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/
duip/biteprevention.htm (last visited on July 15, 2006) (on file with the McGeorge Law Review).
3. Id.
4. See, e.g., Jayette Bolinksi, Traumatized; Stitches Alone May Not Heal Girl Attacked By Pit Bull,
STATE J.-REG. (Springfield, 11.), May 11, 2006, at BI (discussing the effects of a Pit Bull attack on an eight-
year-old girl); In Brief, HERALD (Rock Hill, S.C.), June 21, 2006, at 2B (providing an account of a Pit Bull
attack on an eleven-year-old boy); Jason McAlister, Mauled Girl Gets More Than 300 Stitches, NEWARK
ADvoc. (Ohio), Apr. 25, 2006, at IA (reporting on an attack of a five-year-old girl by a Boxer); Jaqueline
Seibel, Woman Bitten By Dog Is In Coma; She Had Surgery to Repair Fracture, MILWAUKEE J. SENTINEL, June
22, 2006, at B I (reporting on a leg bite by a Rottweiler/Shepard mix breed dog).
5. Safia Gray Hussain, Note, Attacking The Dog Bite Epidemic: Why Breed-Specific Legislation Won't
Solve the Dangerous Dog Dilemma, 74 FORDHAM L. REV. 2847, 2848-49 (2006).
6. Id. at 2849.
7. Id. at 2849-50.
8. See, e.g., Devin Burstein, Breed Specific Legislation: Unfair Prejudice & Ineffective Policy, 10
ANIMAL L. 313, 314 (2004) (blaming public mistrust of Pit Bulls on their portrayal in the media); Hussain,
supra note 5, at 2848 ([E]xtensive media coverage of serious pit bull attacks has resulted in public fear of these
dogs in particular.).


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