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editorial

Vicious dog case points to hole in law

In Massachusetts, dog owners are strictly liable for dog bites unless the victim was tormenting the animal or trespassing. But there is no standard practice for holding a dangerous dog while town officials or courts decide its fate.

That became painfully obvious last week after Mansfield selectmen voted to euthanize a dog that had bitten a 6-year-old boy who needed more than 400 stitches to repair his injuries. Under state law, a dog owner has 10 days to request a court review of any restraint or euthanasia order. On Saturday, shortly into the waiting period, the dog bit a 16-year-old girl. The second incident was entirely preventable.

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