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Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

HOUMA, La. -- After a deadly dog attack claimed the life of a 4-year-old Houma girl, Terrebonne Parish officials are looking at stricter dog laws.

A special parish committee meeting was held Monday night where officials talked about making pet owners -- and not dog breeds -- more accountable.

The general consensus among parish officials was current dog ordinances are OK, but there needs to be stricter penalties for dog owners who break the law.

'It was a child's death this time, the mutilation of a child's face last time, and I don't know what can happen next time,' said Terrebonne Parish Councilwoman Arlanda Williams.

Monday night, Terrebonne Parish officials and a handful of residents were all ears at the Policy, Procedure and Legal Committee meeting.

On March 25, a pit bull mix turned on its owners, maiming a 4-year-old Houma girl at an apartment complex. The girl would later die from her injuries. Investigators say her mother was forced to barricade herself and the toddler in a room before calling police for help.

'I'm not necessarily attacking a particular breed or anything of that nature. I want to look at the caretaker,' said Councilman John Navy, who is calling for weight and dog breed restrictions at apartment complexes.

Navy is also asking the council to consider increasing fines for those who neglect dogs and encourage aggressive animal behavior.

'I think it's for the best interest of the resident and the criminal itself that people are caring for the animal and not just neglecting them and letting them run wild when they can potentially harm other people,' said Navy.

'What happened to Mia was an unfortunate, rare, singular event. It serves as a reminder that we all have to be vigilant and responsible,' said Maggie Marton while addressing the committee and public.

The Houma resident and her husband own two pit bulls. The couple showed up to the meeting to urge parish officials to keep the law as it is by not targeting specific breeds.

Instead, Marton suggested the parish better enforce current laws.

'There's a real and vital need for education about responsible dog ownership. Those are the issues we should focus on instead of changing the existing ordinance,' added Marton.

Last month's deadly dog attack is still under investigation.

Parish officials are asking legal advisors to look into the viability of adopting some of the proposed changes discussed on Monday night.

Councilwoman Christa Duplantis-Prather also recommended the formation of an animal welfare board to look out for human and animal interests across Terrebonne Parish.

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