Hearing on "big dog" bill draws clashing testimony

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Testimony before a state House committee portrayed large, dangerous-looking dogs, by turns, as potentially deadly hazards and loving protectors of the family.

The measure pushed by Democratic Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer of San Antonio would require "vicious" dogs to be registered, insured and heavily restrained. The bill defines dogs as vicious if they're though capable of causing serious injury due to its "physical nature" or is overly aggressive, jumps at the fence and makes people think it could attack.

Opponents say the bill would unfairly punish responsible owners of large dogs just because passers-by might be afraid.

They also say a provision requiring dogs that weigh more than 40 pounds to be leashed unless they're at home or in a "secure enclosure" would put some therapy dogs and show dogs out of work.

Supporters say too many possibly vicious dogs roam the streets. They say the potential danger - especially to children and the elderly - is too great.