Richmond leaders search for answers after dog kills 88-year-old woman

This week's deadly dog attack in Richmond has many asking whether tougher leash laws are necessary.
Published: Nov. 10, 2022 at 7:14 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - This week’s deadly dog attack in Richmond has many asking whether stricter leash laws are necessary.

88-year-old Evangeline Brooks was out on her morning walk when she was mauled by a pit bull.

There is a leash law already in effect in Richmond, but the number of dog bites is on the rise, according to RACC.

“If the dog was outside, not on a leash and nobody at the door, what else could have been done to protect Mrs. Brooks?” Tina Tune, Brooks’ neighbor, said.

Those who knew Mrs. Brooks worries penalties under the current law aren’t enough.

“My heart goes out to the family. When I heard about it, I was pissed. I was hurt. I was sad and mad at the same time because this is how this woman had to die?” asked Richmond City Councilman Mike Jones.

Jones said he knew Brooks before he became councilman of the district she lived.

“It was a name that was always known. She was a face that you always saw,” Jones said.

The horrendous death motivated Jones to consider introducing legislation he says would help prevent dog attacks.

“If we’re not doing a ban, we should be looking at some very strict restrictions on ownership,” Jones said.

Richmond Animal Care and Control respond to about 500 dog bites a year, despite the current leash law.

“Local leaders are in a very difficult position. State law currently prohibits any substantial penalty beyond a fine, and dangerous dog statutes only address the problem after the fact,” NBC12 legal expert Steve Benjamin said.

Benjamin says introducing new legislation will be met with backlash.

“The challenge is writing that legislation, so it only affects the problem and doesn’t affect or punish all those many responsible pet owners,” Benjamin said.

He says other possible solutions would be to increase staffing for animal control and make it easier for people to report dogs on the run.

But for this community, the main issue now is clear.

“I pray that everything is done right for justice. That’s all,” Tune said.

Richmond Police haven’t released any new details about the dog attack.

Benjamin said the chances of the dog owner, in this case serving jail time is slim. There would need to be proof of criminal intent.