A man whose son and 6-year-old grandson were attacked by their neighbor’s pit bull two months ago is calling on the Town Council here to change its local ordinance, which currently has no repercussions for owners of dogs that cause injuries to people.
According to Garner’s town 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.
Cleve Avery said the current ordinance does not do enough to hold dog owners accountable.
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“There should be some kind of ordinance to cover something like this because I see some neglect somewhere on the part of the owner of the dog,” he said. “I’m willing to help you come up with an ordinance if that’s what it takes, but we need something to protect people on that level.”
Cleve Avery said in June, 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.
According to emails sent to town council members briefing them on the incident, the dog attacked the 6-year-old. 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.
Cleve Avery said his son, had to open the dog’s mouth to get his grandson’s head out. Cleve Avery said his son wrestled with the dog on the ground until his other son scared the dog away with a weed eater. The dog then ran toward another home and attacked another dog.
Gregory Avery suffered lacerations to his legs. His injuries kept him out of work for a month, Cleve Avery said. Now that he is back, he is only able to work part-time until his leg fully heals.
Cleve Avery said his son’s job, which is a kitchen worker at Outback Steakhouse, requires him to stand up throughout the day. The 6-year-old boy has recovered.
“This is the most horrific incident that has happened to my family or anybody else’s family that I know about,” Cleve Avery said. “I mean to see what actually unfolded on that day.”
Officers on the scene found the pit bull behind another home nearby where the owner had restrained the dog. Officers captured the dog and took it to the Wake County Animal Shelter for a 10-day quarantine period.
A memo from Lt. Mike McIver to Police Chief Brandon Zudiema said an officer was led to believe that the dog’s owner was going to have the dog put down. However, the dog owner changed her mind and brought the dog home.
Police looked into pursuing charges against the dog owner for the attack, but the local ordinance didn’t allow that.
Rules also state that if the dog is not in the enclosure, it has to be under restraint. And if it leaves the property it also has to be on a leash and muzzled. If an owner were to violate the ordinance or law, then police could confiscate the dog. The neighbor had 30 days to adhere to the rules.
“You let the dog go and kill someone almost, and you still don’t get a punishment for that,” Avery said. “All I’m saying is there is a problem here and the Town of Garner needs to take a look at it. And if not, then maybe the state needs to look at it for the Town of Garner.”
Efforts to reach the neighbor were unsuccessful. A number listed for her said it was out of service.
Police Captain Joe Binns said the dog’s owner finally made the decision to put the dog down.
What the ordinance says...
Confinement and control of dangerous animals
It is unlawful for any owner to maintain or harbor unconfined or unrestrained any animal which (1) bites, inflicts injury, or otherwise attacks a human being without provocation on public or private property or (2) injures or kills a pet or domesticated animal and the animal control officer determines after investigation that the report is supported by the evidence. Any animal meeting these criteria shall be deemed “dangerous.”
(b) The owner will be notified in writing to confine the animal in a humane, secure enclosure. The owner shall post a plainly visible sign upon the secure enclosure warning that a dangerous animal is on the premises. Said sign shall not exceed one (1) foot by two (2) feet or two (2) square feet in area.
(c) The owner shall have thirty (30) days from the date of notification to provide a humane, secure enclosure. The animal deemed “dangerous” shall be under constant restraint on the owner’s property during this period.
(d) If the owner is unable or unwilling to maintain the animal under constant restraint while the secure enclosure is constructed, the animal control officer is empowered to confiscate the animal and harbor it at the owner’s expense pending the owner’s construction of a humane secure enclosure. If the owner constructs a secure enclosure which is approved by the animal control officer within the thirty (30) days the animal can be released from confiscation so long as all fees owing to the animal control program and/or the animal shelter for harboring, caring for and maintaining the animal are paid. If any dangerous animal is confiscated under this provision, the owner of the dangerous animal shall be given written notice at the time of confiscation that if the owner fails to provide a secure enclosure upon the expiration of thirty (30) days from the confiscation the animal will become property of the town and will be turned over to the animal shelter for disposition.