AZ Fabian’s Law: Justice for Poodle Killed by Pit Bull?


Since September 2009, over 600 fatal dog-on-dog attacks have been reported in Maricopa County, AZ. The proposed “Vicious Dog Owner Responsibility Act” (aka Fabian’s Law) would provide a civil remedy for distraught owners who often watch their pet die in a brutal, unprovoked attack and are left with veterinary and other bills. Does Fabian’s Law deserve our support?

Fabian’s story:

“Our beloved miniature poodle, Fabian, was killed by an unleashed pit-bull on September 5, 2009, at our home in Glendale, AZ,” Richard Andrade tells us. “Fabian was on his owner's leash, in his own driveway, when a neighbor's pit-bull ran out of their backyard across the street, and viciously attacked Fabian. Minutes later, Fabian was rushed to an emergency animal hospital but did not survive.”

“Unknown to my wife Sally, and I, while we were away on vacation, four men moved into the rental house across the street on September 1,” he continues. “We returned home on Wednesday, September 3, 2009. On the evening of September 5, while I was not home, Sally returned to our house after a walk with Fabian and Cheri, our other poodle. A pit bull suddenly ran from the backyard of the rental house, across the street, and into our extended driveway and grabbed Fabian in his jaws. Sally said it happened so fast, she had no time to react.” 

“Our next-door neighbor, who is a responsible pit bull owner himself, heard Sally and Fabian screaming and ran over to help. He finally got Fabian’s limp, bloody body away from the dog, and another neighbor and Sally rushed him to the veterinarian. Fabian’s last act was trying to lift his head high enough to lovingly kiss Sally’s face. Within a short time after their arrival at the emergency veterinary hospital, Fabian died—and a part of us died with him.”

The need for dog-owner-responsibility laws.

“The renters denied ownership of the pit bull, and animal control advised me that current law would only allow citations for "Failure to Wear" and "Dog at Large." The renters had no assets and moved out within 30 days. We had a total of $5,300 in bills, including counseling to help Sally try to sleep at night without nightmares of the attack on Fabian.”  (Small Claims court in AZ only allows up to $2,500.) “An attorney advised me that there are no laws in AZ that provide for reimbursement in dog-on-dog attacks, although civil and criminal remedies exist for dog attacks on humans.”

“Sally and I decided that, although we would never be reimbursed for our expenses, we would work for a law to address dog-on-dog attacks in AZ and then in other states that do not have this protection. Many owners are left with huge veterinary bills, an injured or dead pet, and grief that will haunt them for years.” 

How frequent are serious dog-on-dog attacks? 

“In Maricopa County alone, from September 5, 2009 thru June 5, 2010, there were over 3,000 incidents related to dog attacks, 750 which were dog-on-dog,” states Richard Andrade “Sally and I did everything the law required of us, making sure our dogs were leashed while off property, vaccinations were current; they were registered and licensed with Maricopa County. Yet, the current law failed us. The owner of the pit-bull felt he was above the law and failed even to show up for court to face the fine for Dog at Large.”

What is Fabian’s Law?

"Fabian's Law" is aimed at irresponsible, vicious-dog owners and would impose (1) stricter fines, (2) steps that a vicious dog owner would have to take to safeguard from another attack; and Fabian’s Law would (3) provide a legal path to pursue compensation for victims—the dogs/cats and the owners of pets that suffer from vicious, unprovoked attacks. Currently, AZ laws only address attacks on humans—not on another dog or a cat.

Is Fabian’s Law breed specific?

Sally and Richard Andrade are very clear that "Fabian's Law" is not and has not been breed specific. “All dog breeds attack,” they emphasize, “but regardless of the breed, our concern is not just limited to injury to pets but that there may be a child on the other end of the leash or trying to protect a pet, and they may also become a victim.” Without a law to establish accountability, dog owners are obviously not taking proper precaution to prevent even greater tragedies.”

What do you think? 

Read more about Fabian’s Law at

If you want to help from anywhere in the world, you can write a short letter, e-mail or make a phone call to the Arizona State Legislature, asking them to support Fabian’s Law,  the Vicious Dog Owner Responsibility Act.  Here’s the contact:  State Representative Steve Montenegro, 1700 W. Washington St., Rm. 309, Phoenix  AZ 85007, Phone:  (602) 926-5955,

Do you think Fabian’s Law will result in more responsible dog ownership in AZ?


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