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Dog killing brings harsh charges for owner

(Global Times)

09:22, July 01, 2013

The owner of a Tibetan mastiff that bit a 3-year-old girl to death in Dalian, Liaoniang Province, may be sentenced to three to seven years, arousing concerns over the legal responsibilities of dog owners.

The victim was attacked by the unleashed dog when she was with her mother on Thursday in the city, the China News Service (CNS) reported Sunday.

The owner of the mastiff has been arrested on criminal charges and the dog has since been caged by the local public security bureau.

Yu Haihua, a judge with the Liaoning Provincial High People's Court, was quoted by the CNS as saying that the owner, charged with causing the death of someone else by negligence, should face charges for improper supervision of the dog.

This has not been the only case where people were hurt by giant dogs. A Tibetan mastiff was shot to death after attacking a woman in Sichuan Province on Friday. Two pedestrians were bitten by another Tibetan mastiff in Beijing on Thursday.

If owners intentionally let their pets hurt people, they can be charged appropriately, Hong Daode, a law professor with the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times on Sunday, adding that the most severe punishment would be the death penalty. "However, a prison sentence of up to seven years could be issued for negligence, if the dog's actions was out of the owner's control."

Cities including Haikou, Hainan Province, and Beijing have set size limits for dogs in regulations and banned certain breeds to attempt to avoid such tragedies. Police in Haikou announced 29 banned breeds, including Tibetan mastiffs, adding that random checks will be conducted from Saturday. A fine of 2,000 yuan ($326) will be issued to owners and the animals will also be seized, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Beijing police issued a notice on June 2 banning giant dogs, except helper dogs for the visually impaired or disabled.

Zhu Shuilin, a vice president with the Zhejiang Small Animal Protection Association, pointed out that the regulations should not target all those big dogs. "Some large breeds, like golden retrievers and labradors, are harmless and good family dogs," Zhu said, adding that a system for training dogs to communicate with people should be set up.

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