A few weeks back one of my neighbors and his dog were brutally attacked by three pitbulls on Woodview Dr. While the man and his dog sustained injuries, they could have been a lot worse had it not been for the heroic actions of an alert property owner nearby who came to the rescue.
Since the attack, I’ve been approached by numerous neighbors questioning what ordinances, if any, the Village has in place to regulate these types of terrible and unfortunate situations involving dog attacks. Thankfully, the Village and residents are well-protected by our “vicious dog” Section of the Village Code.
As recent as yesterday, July 30th, we received notification from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office that Sheriff Dale Schmidt has deemed both animals as “vicious” under the Washington County Code 14.14. Also, the animal’s owner was cited for failing to have a dog license, failing to have rabies vaccinations, and for allowing animals to run ‘at-large’ without a leash. The third dog was euthanized due to injuries sustained from the hero neighbor trying to ward off the attack.
Now that the County Sheriff has deemed this dog as “vicious”, the Village will be working closely with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the Village Attorney to bring this dog owner into compliance should they decide to keep the animals. Washington County defines a “vicious dog” by any one of the following definitions:
1) Any dog with a propensity, tendency or disposition to attack, cause injury or otherwise endanger the safety of human beings or other domestic animals as evidence by its habitual or repeated chasing or snapping, or barking and/or snarling in a threatening manner.
2) Any dog which attacks a human being or another domestic animal without provocation.
3) Any dog owned or harbored primarily or in part for the purpose of dog-fighting, or any dog trained for dog-fighting.
4) Any pit bull dog.
Once labeled “vicious”, the county requires a leash no longer than 4’ and muzzle any time the animal is outdoors. Additionally, all “vicious” dogs shall be securely confined in an enclosed locked pen or kennel, except when properly leashed and muzzled. When the animal is inside, it shall be similarly confined when any windows or screen doors are open. A sign must also be placed on the property that is easily readable to the public using the words “Beware of Dog” with similar signs on each of the kennel/pen areas where the dog resides. Lastly, the owner shall obtain public liability insurance in the amount of $50,000 for bodily injury which cannot be revoked by the owner without written consent of the County Sheriff. While the animal owner does have the right to appeal the determination of the dogs as “vicious”, the Village would plan to vigorously oppose such an appeal for the safety of those neighboring property owners.
While this type of a situation does not necessarily happen very often in the Village, I hope our residents find comfort in the fact that we do have ordinances in place for these types of rare instances. However, we will be working with the Village Attorney to ensure that our ordinances that we have in place currently are the recommended "model".
Trustee Rock R. Brandner