Ask The Times: Can a felon own a pit bull? - The Times: Local

Ask The Times: Can a felon own a pit bull?

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Posted: Thursday, August 26, 2010 11:07 pm

Q. Can a felon own a pit bull?

A. Yes, but these are legal stipulations involving all breeds of dogs. In 2007, Illinois adopted a law that prohibits certain felons from knowingly owning, possessing, having custody of or living in a residence with "unspayed or unneutered dog or puppy older than 12 weeks of age" or "any dog that has been determined to be a vicious dog" as define by the state statute.

In Illinois, "vicious dog" is defined as a dog that, without justification, attacks a person and causes serious physical injury or death, or any dog that has been found to be a "dangerous dog" upon three separate occasions.

"Dangerous dog" describes a dog that is loose and "poses a serious and unjustified imminent threat of serious physical injury or death to a person or a companion animal." A dangerous dog also is a dog that "without justification, bites a person and does not cause serious physical injury."

The law applies for 10 years from the release from prison or jail to anyone convicted of serious felonies including cruelty to animals and drug crimes.

Dogs that are not spayed/neutered tend to be more aggressive. In fact, experts reported 91 percent of fatal dog attacks involve dogs that have not been spayed/neutered. Research cited in a 2000 Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association study indicated unsterilized dogs are 2.6 times more likely to attack or bite.

In January 2008, a Streator convicted felon, arrested on drug charges, also was cited for owning an unspayed or unneutered dog. The offense was (and is) a misdemeanor.

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