By Bonita Wilborn
In January, House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter sponsored legislation to begin the process, which would lead to the passing of Emily’s Law. Now, with the process complete, Alabama lawmakers recently passed ‘Emily’s Law’.
The bill is so named for 24-year-old Emily Mae Colvin, of Jackson County, who died in early December, after being attacked by a pack of dogs, in her own front yard.
Emily’s Law provides new punishments for dog owners whose dogs seriously injure or kill a person. Under the law, owners of dogs could face harsh fines or even prison time. They can be found guilty of a class B felony. The legislation also provides a procedure for the court to determine if a dog is dangerous. The bill further allows the court to order a dog be put to death and states that if a dangerous dog is given back to the owner, the owner must have the animal confined within a locked enclosure that has a concrete floor to prevent the dog from escaping.
Emily Colvin’s family is proud that state officials are finally taking dog attacks seriously, but say it doesn’t replace what they’ve lost.
A family member stated, “Her death is the most challenging experience we’ve lived through.” And said that they’ve been in and out of court since Emily’s death, fighting for justice.
Another family member added, “There have to be consequences so that people with animals like this don’t infringe on our rights.”
The Jackson County court system held a hearing in January that led to the euthanization of the dogs involved in the attack. Then on Wednesday, April 4, a grand jury indicted Brian Graden, age 43, and Melody age 45; the owners of the dogs. They were each charged with one count of criminally negligent homicide and four counts of failing to immunize a dog for rabies.
By Bonita Wilborn