FLUVANNA COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A rabid dog attack last month in Fluvanna County has left a young girl with permanent injuries and her family with mounting medical bills. It also exposed problems with Virginia code, and the girl’s father is now working to change state law.

"I really want people to understand that this was not a simple dog bite. This was an attack. A vicious attack that cost a young woman a body part," said Richard Schmack, whose 14-year-old daughter was maimed by a neighbor's rabid dog six days before Christmas after she got off the school bus.  

The dog ripped off her right index finger. University of Virginia surgeons were unable to reattach it.  Schmack says his daughter is now coping with physical and psychological trauma, and the family is facing thousands of dollars in medical bills.

The dog's owner, Richard Shane Kelley, has been charged with multiple misdemeanors including failing to vaccinate companion animals and cruelty to animals. But there's no charge against him for owning a dog that maimed a child because of the way Virginia law is written. Schmack says that's appalling.

"If two individuals engage in a physical confrontation and one was to lose a body part, that would be aggravated assault, which is a felony,” he said. “I don't see why, if you knowingly and willingly fail to be responsible and your animal harms someone, why that would not be aggravated assault by proxy.”

In fact, Virginia law seems to offer more protection from dogs for livestock than humans. Had the rabid dog killed a neighbor's chicken, the chicken's owner would be entitled to fair market compensation, according to Virginia code. Not so for a human child permanently injured by a dog.

"I think it's a shameful, shameful situation for the Commonwealth of Virginia to be in," Schmack said.

And that's not the only problem Schmack sees with state law. Under current law, it's a Class 4 misdemeanor to fail to quarantine a dog suspected of having rabies.  After the Fluvanna attack, Delegate Rob Bell decided that needed to change.

"Virginia law treated very modest animal diseases like the mange exactly the same as rabies," Bell said.

With Schmack offering his testimony in support, Bell has sponsored a bill that would make it a Class 1 misdemeanor for anyone to ignore an order to quarantine a possibly rabid animal. That bill unanimously passed out of subcommittee.

And Schmack says a lawsuit against the dog's owner isn't the answer to situations like his family’s.

"Civil remedies are fine, but if individuals don't have the means, there's no recourse," he said.

Legal analyst Scott Goodman agrees and says there's another issue with trying to sue.

"If the prospects for recovery are not very great, you won't be able to find an attorney willing to take a case on that basis," he said.

Schmack says he plans to keep fighting for tougher dog laws at both the state and county levels.

"This could happen again to anyone, and it's not a Fluvanna County problem,” he said. “This could happen in Orange. This could happen in Hampton Roads, Northern Virginia, western Virginia. The laws for the Commonwealth need to be addressed.”

CBS19 reached out to the dog’s owner for comment but did not get a response. Kelley is due back in court on the misdemeanor charges on Feb. 18.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help the Schmack family cover the cost of medical expenses.