On Sunday, a 7-year-old boy died at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital in Pensacola after he was mauled by two large bulldogs in his front yard. According to sources, the owner of the dogs has been charged several times since the dog attack.
The owner was initially charged with possession of marijuana, but he was later charged with tampering with evidence for allegedly washing blood from one dog’s face when it returned home after the attack. The manslaughter charge was announced on Monday.
According to Greg Wilson, felony chief for the State Attorney’s Office, there are generally two ways to go about a dog attack case. Under Florida law, owners of dogs that have already been declared dangerous are guilty of a felony if the dog is involved in an unprovoked attack that kills or seriously injures another human.
According to Wilson, the owner in this case would only have been guilty of a misdemeanor as his dogs had not been declared dangerous, despite an incident a week before the attack. In this case, the state is attempting to prove that the owner is guilty of manslaughter because he was responsible for the animals and was negligent. The manslaughter statute provides that an owner may be prosecuted in cases involving culpable negligence. When the victim is under 18, they can be prosecuted for a first-degree felony, which is punishable by 30 years in prison.
Florida law does place limits on what dogs can be declared dangerous, and in most cases mere aggression is not enough to declare a dog dangerous. In our next post, we’ll continue looking at this topic.
Source: News Herald, “Manslaughter charge filed in dog mauling death,” Chris Olwell, April 8 2013