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When It Comes to the Law, One Word Can Make a Big Difference

A change to a dangerous-dog ordinance shows the impact wording has on the law.

Jackie Brown  |  Apr 10th 2019

In December, the Troy City Council in New York unanimously voted to modify the language of the city’s 2006 dangerous-dog ordinance. As it turns out, changing a single word has a big impact. The City Council voted to change the word “shall” to “may,” giving judges more discretion when deciding how to sentence dogs who attack other dogs or humans.

The change to the code comes in the wake of public criticism in a case in which a dog named Luna was sentenced to be euthanized after biting another dog and that dog’s owner. Luna’s owner has appealed her sentence.

About the author

Pet expert Jackie Brown has spent 20 years following her passion for animals as a writer and editor in the pet publishing industry. She is contributing writer for National Geographic’s Complete Guide to Pet Health, Behavior, and Happiness: The Veterinarian’s Approach to At-Home Animal Care (April 2019) and author of the book It’s Raining Cats and Dogs: Making Sense of Animal Phrases (Lumina Press, 2006). Jackie is a regular contributor to pet and veterinary industry media and is the former editor of numerous pet magazines, including Dog WorldNatural DogPuppies 101Kittens 101 and the Popular Cats Series. Prior to starting her career in publishing, Jackie spent eight years working in veterinary hospitals where she assisted veterinarians as they treated dogs, cats, rabbits, pocket pets, reptiles, birds and one memorable lion cub. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons and miniature poodle Jäger. Reach her at jackiebrownwriter.wordpress.com.

Editor’s note: This article appeared in Dogster magazine. Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe now to get Dogster magazine delivered straight to you! 

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