Animal Rights

Pitt Bull Attacks Result in Felony Charges for 2 Owners

| by Denise A Justin

For the first time in a decade, a grand jury charged two Austin, TX, pit bull owners with failing to secure dogs which attacked victims without provocation in two separate incidents, according to theAmerican-Statesman.

Reginald Welton and Verna Cooper were each indicted on May 24 on charges of “attack by dog”, a third-degree felony punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison, reported

Incident #1

The charges against Welton resulted from an attack on Christmas Day, 2010, when Alfredo Hernandez was getting groceries out of his car at an East Austin home and was suddenly attacked by Welton’s two pit bulls. The victim pulled out a knife to defend himself, but the attack continued. One bite was so severe that it broke his arm. The dogs continued to act aggressively when police arrived and were shot by officers.

The owner was determined to be Welton, who lived a few blocks away, according to an Austin Police detective. Welton is charged in the indictment with two counts of “attack by dog” and “criminal negligence” in failure to secure the dogs, according to the American Statesman..

Incident #2

Verna Cooper is facing one charge of "recklessly” failing to restrain her dog, which attacked 11-year-old Gracyn Aills on March 12, while she was riding her bike a few blocks ahead of her father. The little girl was attacked by the pit bull near Cooper's house. The dog grabbed the girl’s leg and "was ripping and tearing it,” said Austin Police Animal Cruelty Detective Ewa Werner. The injury required over 200 stitches, according to Fox7News.

The pit bull was euthanized later by Austin animal control, according to the report. Official records show it was the dog's third unprovoked attack on a person and that the dog had been deemed a "dangerous dog,” meaning Cooper was required to keep it in a secure enclosure, to have the dog wear a tag identifying it as a dangerous dog and to carry $100,000 of liability insurance.

 The Assistant District Attorney handling the cases said that it has been at least ten years since anyone has been charged in Travis County with this crime, according to