HOUMA, LA (WVUE) - Some Terrebonne Parish dog-owners could be shelling out more in fees and fines.
Parish council members changed an ordinance to include stiffer penalties for owners with dogs deemed dangerous or vicious. Terrebonne Parish Council says this change is about being responsible.
Parish council member John Navy says a 4-year-old girl was killed by her pet dog in Houma last March.
"It's not just that incident with the young girl," said Navy. "I thought it was important for the parish to take a look at irresponsible pet owners and the safety of those owners and other people around them."
The council agreed to three main changes Wednesday night. Terrebonne already has rules in place for walking, sheltering and caring for dangerous or vicious dogs.
The new law states if you break any of those rules, you could now be fined up to $500, a maximum in Louisiana. Fees for dangerous dogs will also be raised from $10 to $150. Owners are also no longer allowed to keep dogs tethered to one spot.
"We're hoping that having that [by] tethering the law, being real tough on it and increasing fines, we'll show them we're not playing with this existing ordinance," said Navy.
A dog is considered dangerous if it bites a person unprovoked or kills or seriously hurts another animal. A dog is considered vicious if it seriously hurts or kills a person unprovoked.
Valerie Robinson with the Terrebonne Parish animal shelter says investigators go through a process before dogs will get labeled dangerous or vicious.
"We investigate the cases thoroughly, collect all the evidence, testimony from victims and potential witnesses, and present that information to a panel," said Robinson. "They decide if that dog is deemed dangerous or vicious."
Lafourche Parish is looking to make some similar changes as well. This comes after someone was attacked by a pit bull in Chackbay this past Sunday.