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It’s not often that complaints about loose dogs in town come before the city council. But when they do, the tales are harrowing. In September, a woman on Davis Street explained that loose pit …
It’s not often that complaints about loose dogs in town come before the city council. But when they do, the tales are harrowing. In September, a woman on Davis Street explained that loose pit bulls had cornered her while she was gardening beside her house, and she later suffered vandalism after reporting the incident. Last week, a woman reported that she was attacked and bitten by loose dogs while walking with a friend along Lucky Street.
The issue of loose dogs has been a problem in Fayette for many years. The police claim they don’t have the resources to have chase them down, and Fayette has no animal control officers.
During a special meeting of the Board of Aldermen on Tuesday, November 7, Mati Salazar and Ruth Anne Conrow gave a frightening account of an encounter with two loose dogs at 304 Lucky Street that morning which resulted in a bite suffered on the arm of Mrs. Salazar.
She explained that she and Mrs. Conrow were walking along Lucky Street as they often do for exercise, when two dogs appeared and became aggressive. One dog attacked, and bit Mrs. Salazar’s arm as she was blocking her face.
“We were attacked by two dogs,” Mrs. Salazar told the council. “I got bitten by one of them. It was really a terrifying experience.”
The two women reported the incident to the police. The dogs, which are reportedly not vaccinated, are required to be kept confined in a crate for 10 days for observation due to concerns over rabies. All dogs within the City of Fayette are required by city ordinance to be vaccinated and registered.
Mrs. Salazar objected to the animals being kept at home over this period. And city council members agreed.
Apparently, the city dog pound at D.C. Rogers Lake is closed due to a recent outbreak of Parvo. So, the city has no facility to quarantine the dogs.
“They have to be in a room in the house. They can’t be running around in the house,” explained Southwest Ward Alderwoman Marsha Broadus, who also serves as administrator of the Howard County Health Department.
“I’m here because I am also thinking about little kids walking,” said Mrs. Salazar. “We were suddenly attacked by the two dogs.” She explained that had she not put up her arm in front of her face, she would have been bitten in the face or neck.
“At the time we didn’t know she’d been bitten,” said Mrs. Conrow. “She had gone over backwards, which enabled me to get the spray out. Because they went for her more, I got the spray out and sprayed them and they retreated.”
Both Mrs. Salazar and Mrs. Conrow expressed concern that the dogs are being quarantined in their owner’s house, because they could remain a risk for the community if let out. Police Chief David Ford said they cannot be quarantined in the pound because of the recent Parvo outbreak.
“In a normal situation we would have seized the dogs today and they would be in our pound. I didn’t have that option,” Chief Ford told the council. “The vet said they could possibly have room but told me that I needed to speak with the Health Department because they could also be quarantined at the house.”
He said his officers would make regular checks on the dogs to ensure they are being quarantined appropriately. “Until they go to court and are deemed vicious dogs, I cannot seize them,” Chief Ford said.
City Attorney Nathan Nickolaus explained that Missouri is what’s known as a “one free bite” state. “In Missouri, until the animal has bitten somebody, it’s not deemed vicious. So now, the animal could be deemed vicious, but as the Chief said, it’s got to go through the court process.”
Southwest Ward Alderwoman Bekki Galloway said this has become a problem all over town. “We really have to get our finger back on it, because we worked really hard about [this issue] 10 years ago.”
Fayette’s ordinance sets the minimum fine for a vicious dog is $200. The maximum fine is $500.
After discussion and speculation regarding what should happen to such dogs and how much owners should pay in fines, Mayor Jeremy Dawson encouraged council members to present ideas so that changes can be made.
“If any of you council members would like to work on adjusting, changing an ordinance, feel free to put that together and present it and bring it to the council.”
The city council meets regularly at 6 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month in City Hall. Meetings are open, agendas are published in advance, and the public is invited.
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