Under legislation proposed March 23 in the state Senate, dogs could be declared dangerous animals if they attack a cat while the cat is on its owner's property or under the control of its owner.

A bill introduced March 23 by Senate Minority Leader Sen. F. Gary Simpson, R-Milford, would give cats the upper hand in their age-old feud with dogs.

Under Senate Bill 208 a dog could be declared a dangerous animal and subject to seizure by animal control authorities for attacking a cat.

The law already allows a dog to be declared dangerous if it attacks, injures or kills poultry, livestock or another dog.

For the attacking dog to be declared dangerous, the attack must occur on the property of the animal’s owner, or while the animal is under direct control of the owner.

Simpson said he introduced the bill in response to an incident in Middletown where a woman’s cat was brutally “torn apart” in front of her children by two dogs that jumped into her fenced yard.

“Chickens are considered domestic animals, but not cats,” Simpson said, referring to definitions in the current law. “It seems like a simple thing.”

The bill has been assigned to the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Other bills introduced in the General Assembly March 23 include:

House Bill 338, sponsored by Rep. James Johnson, D-Jefferson Farms, which would allow judges to deviate from minimum sentencing rules when a convict has serious health issues that would burden the state’s prison system. The bill only would apply to mandatory sentence of one year or less. Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 171, sponsored by Sen. Bruce C. Ennis, D-Smyrna. This bill allows paternity to be established for children older than age 18 in special cases: “where a child has extraordinary medical needs, where a wife fails to disclose that a child born during the marriage is not her husband’s, where all parties agree, and where the best interest of the child otherwise demands.” It also requires, in absence of genetic testing to determine parentage, that   a mother sign a affidavit stating no other man could possibly be the father. Senate Bill 212, also sponsored by Ennis, that would grant New Castle County the authority to charge building permit applicants a fee that would go to volunteer fire companies. The amount of the fee would not exceed 0.5% of the construction value listed in the permit.

Email Doug Denison at doug.denison@doverpost.com.