Pit bull call means we need tougher criminal pet owner laws (Opinion)
Only in New Jersey can we have a law to protect minors from being busted by cops for booze and weed but nothing for a 3-year-old who was killed by two pit bulls while playing in his own backyard. We need to change that.
Middlesex County prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone's office announced that no laws were violated when two pit bulls got into the yard of 3-year-old Aziz Ahmed, killing the boy and putting his mother who was trying to save him in the hospital while his 10-year-old brother watched in horror from behind a screen door.
My first thought was the same as it was when this horrific incident happened.
Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick called into my New Jersey 101.5 show and predicted there would be no criminal charges saying: "The only time the owners are responsible for the dog's action is when the dog is used as a weapon."
I get that, but there are laws that protect weapons from hurting people.
Take New Jersey's gun laws for instance, or how guns are to be kept and stored. Are you criminally responsible if your gun goes off and kills somebody? What's the difference between an animal that can kill and a loaded gun?
The owners were negligent by having their dogs get out. They had been twice asked by the family to do something and were laughed off. There ought to be a law. Maybe after one complaint, the penalty gets tougher.
In a letter sent to "concerned citizens," Prosecutor Ciccone said: "There has been no intentional, knowing, or reckless criminal conduct uncovered."
That's why the law needs to be wider than an owner using the animal as a weapon.
"Based upon information received, no previous violent incidents involving the animals in question have been conveyed to law enforcement," Ciccone continued.
But there had been complaints, shouldn't that be enough?
"In this case, based upon the information known at this time, it would appear as if no law has been violated. Thus, despite the well-intended demands for justice, no charges will presently be filed. Again, this decision is based upon the facts and evidence known to law enforcement at this time," Ciccone said.
She said there was one incident of the dogs running loose but the dogs did not show any aggressive tendencies. They only have to show them once. Unfortunately, this time it was once too late.
Based on the law the prosecutor has to work with, this is where we are. This is also why we need new laws making owners criminally responsible for the action of their pets. I'm with the crowd from Sunday night. We need "Aziz's Law."
If we can save children from being busted by cops for booze and weed, surely we can save them from dangerous animals. Like I said, only in New Jersey.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise. Any opinions expressed are Steve's own. Steve Trevelise is on New Jersey 101.5 Monday-Thursday from 7pm-11pm. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.