The Town Council here is expected to make some changes to its “dangerous dog” ordinance, after a Garner man called on them to provide stiffer penalties for dog owners whose dogs attack people and other dogs.
His son and grandson were attacked by their neighbor’s dog last June, sending both to the hospital.
Under the current ordinance, when a dog attacks someone or another pet on private or public property, and the officer determines there is evidence to support the claim, the animal will be classified as “dangerous.” The owner must then keep the dog in a “humane, secure enclosure,” and post a visible sign warning people that there is a dangerous dog at the home.
From there the penalties get stiffer if there are other incidents.
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The proposed changes to the ordinance, however, won’t necessarily create stiffer penalties for first-time offenders, as the resident, Cleve Avery, suggested the council do. The changes instead close current loopholes in the ordinance, create stiffer penalties for dogs already declared dangerous, and would add another element to determine whether a dog is dangerous before it actually attacks someone.
Dogs can be declared “dangerous” in Garner for three reasons: If the dog attacks or bites someone and inflicts serious injury without provocation on public or private property, if it kills or injures a pet without provocation, or if it’s trained or kept primarily for dogfighting.
The council is expected to add “if the dog has approached a person on his or her property in a vicious or terrorizing manner.”
There have been six dog bites reported since 2014. Five incidents include the dogs biting other dogs, and the last incident involved the Averys being bitten.
Cleve Avery said his son, Gregory Avery, had walked a few doors down to his neighbor’s house to let her know that he would cut her grass. Gregory Avery’s son was with him.
Gregory Avery knocked on his neighbor’s door on Turner Street. As the neighbor opened her door, her dog darted out. The dog ran past Gregory Avery and toward the 6-year-old who was standing at the edge of the driveway.
The dog attacked the 6-year-old biting him on the back of his head. Gregory Avery tried to get the dog off his son, and was also bitten. The young boy suffered puncture wounds to his head and buttocks.
Gregory Avery suffered lacerations to his legs. His injuries kept him out of work for a month.
Other changes in the ordinance include closing loopholes.
The current ordinance requires people to put signs in their yards that indicate there is a dangerous dog on the property. The rule was worded in such a way that someone could create a sign so small, that no one could see it. The council will now require “dangerous dog” owners to create a sign that is one foot by two feet or two square feet in area and create a minimum font size.
The council also may require “dangerous dog” owners to install microchips in their dogs, so if the dog is at large and is located, police would be able to determine whether the dog was declared dangerous. And if that dog was declared dangerous and at large, the owner would be assessed a penalty or have the dog confiscated.
The ordinance will also include language that requires “dangerous dog” owners to allow animal control officers to determine if the owner has completed or is maintaining the requirements to get the animal back.
The changes will be voted on at a future town council meeting.
Council members made sure to emphasize that the changes to the ordinance will not be specific to a dog breed. Council member Gra Singleton said there was a idea years ago to look at banning pit bulls. But residents didn’t allow that idea to get far.
“The behavior of the owner has a lot to do with the behavior of the dog,” Singleton said.
“Amen,” council members Buck Kennedy and Kathy Behringer added.