Virginia Considering Dog Bite Disclosure Law

The tragic dog attack death of a woman in Virginia Beach has prompted some legislators in the State of Virginia to move toward creating a “dangerous dog” registry for animal training centers, reports 13 News Now.

This proposed bill, which passed unopposed in the state’s Senate at the end of January, was created in response to the death of a 90-year-old woman, Margaret Colvin, who was mauled by a pit bull. Colvin’s family adopted the dog from the Forever Home Rehabilitation Center, which reportedly failed to disclose the dog’s history of biting. The new bill would make a dog’s bite history, including the circumstances surrounding any aggressive incidents and the date of any bites, a required disclosure at any facility and not just at animal shelters.

Virginia Beach Senator Bill DeSteph (R) is the sponsor of the new legislation, SB 571. Under this bill, a facility that fails to disclose a bite history will face civil punishment. According to the senator, this bill is meant to protect consumers, who need to know if a dog has a history of biting or aggressive behavior before they bring the animal into their home.

Linda Patterson, the daughter of the victim, had adopted the dog in question. A representative for the Patterson family said that the woman saw her mother viciously attacked by the dog in the Patterson family home. The rep added that the scene was very grisly and that the family is not doing well. They have since filed a wrongful death claim for $5 million against the Forever Home Rehabilitation Center.

13 News Now conducted a month-long investigation into the tragic incident and discovered that the rehabilitation center did not disclose the animal’s bite history before the Patterson family adopted it. The news agency also confirmed, after speaking with various state agencies, that there are currently no laws in the state that prevent dangerous dogs from being adopted again and potentially harming someone else.

According to Senator DeSteph, this horrifying dog attack could have been prevented. The senator added that the pit bull, named Blue, had already been returned previously by someone for biting within the first 24 hours of its adoption.


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This dog bite history disclosure bill is now headed to the state House. If it passes there, the state’s governor will then have to decide whether it will become a law. 13 News Now contacted the office of the current governor, Ralph Northam, to ask if he would sign the bill. A spokesperson for that office said they will review the bill when it arrives.

Forever Home Rehabilitation Center has released a statement about the case, extending its condolences to the victim’s family while affirming it will be cleared of wrongdoing once the legal process has run its course.

A dog attack can have devastating consequences for a family, as it did in this case. If you or your family has been harmed by a dangerous dog, speak to an experienced attorney about your case today.


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