Thursday, February 28, 2008

Off topic again for an update on Rolo

A little over a week ago, I posted about Rolo the German Shepherd, a dog that had been sentenced to death for scratching a woman.

Rolo's owner, Laura Hagan, contested the decision. Rolo was still found guilty of being a "dangerous dog" at his retrial, but — thankfully — his sentencing this time around was much less harsh.

Here's Rolo and Laura's new sentence:

1) Rolo and Laura must continue behavioral training.
2) Laura must have her fences inspected.
3) Laura must keep $100,000 in liability insurance.
4) Laura has a suspended jail sentence of 90 days. "Suspended jail sentence" means that as long as there are no further incidents involving Rolo in the next year, Laura won't serve any time.

I think most of the sentence is fair. The liability insurance is kind of high, but I'm too glad that Rolo was spared to complain too much.

What I think is unfair is the dangerous dog ruling. Once again, I have to say that a dog Rolo's size has the potential to do a lot of damage, and very quickly. If all he did was scratch the woman, that's because he didn't want to do anything worse. And if he didn't want to hurt her, doesn't that mean he's not dangerous?

Unfortunately, I think there are a great many non-dog owners in this world who are very ignorant about dogs. And I think that the jurors probably fell into this category. Many people are afraid of dogs because they understand that they are big, strong, and potentially dangerous animals. What they don't understand is that just because there is a potential there doesn't mean a dog is dangerous.

In fact, doesn't it speak volumes that even though the potential is there — instinct, size, strength, teeth — something in Rolo's nature or training resisted all of those factors, and stopped at merely scratching the woman?

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