Wake County

Raleigh to consider tougher rules for dangerous dogs

City leaders on Tuesday will discuss tougher rules against dangerous dogs a few days after a 21-month-old boy was seriously injured in East Raleigh by at least one Rottweiler.

The Raleigh City Council will review and potentially vote Tuesday on an ordinance that would make it easier to declare dogs dangerous – especially if they attack other pets – and to have dangerous dogs impounded or killed. The action comes after some East Raleigh residents have complained that the area has developed a reputation as a home for dangerous dogs.

“You’re left in fear in your own neighborhood,” said Sue Sturgis, who lives a block from the home where the toddler was attacked Friday.

The new ordinance would expand when a dog would be declared dangerous to include biting a person, resulting in broken bones or hospitalization, and killing or severely injuring a pet when not on the dog owner’s property.

The new definition would cover dogs that are not on their owner’s property when they approach a person in an apparent attitude of attack.

The changes would result in more canines being subject to regulations that require securing dangerous dogs on and off the owner’s property.

In addition, dangerous dogs that are found at large could be impounded for at least five days at the owner’s expense. The Animal Control Unit or the police would be authorized to tranquilize a dog without prior notice to the owner when “all reasonable attempts” to seize it are unsuccessful.

Dangerous dogs that seriously injure a person or kill or seriously injure a pet when not on their owner’s property could be impounded and euthanized.

The ordinance, which was put on the meeting agenda before the attack Friday, establishes an appeal process when a dog has been declared dangerous or when a determination has been made that a dog should be euthanized.

The ordinance also says dangerous animals can be killed on sight if they can’t safely be captured and it’s necessary for protection of life or property or for public health and safety.

Notification requirement

The ordinance would require owners to notify animal control when an animal bites a person without provocation.

The proposed changes come after several dog attacks in East Raleigh over the past few years.

In the latest incident on Friday, police say the toddler was attacked shortly after 10 a.m. The child’s family was visiting friends at a home in the 2300 block of Euston Street.

The parents of the boy and the family they were visiting each had a dog. The two Rottweilers were in the backyard where the child entered after leaving the house unnoticed, police reported.

The toddler suffered injuries that are considered life-threatening, according to Jim Sughrue, a Raleigh police spokesman.

Emergency workers rushed the boy to WakeMed in Raleigh and later to UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill. No further information on the boy’s condition was available Saturday.

Kevin Lawrence lives next door to the home where the attack occurred and recalls the screaming from the parents on Friday.

“It’s just a tragedy,” he said. “Let’s hope the little kid lives, and this boy can have a normal life.”

Sughrue said no charges have been filed, and none are anticipated.

The owners of both dogs have relinquished custody of the animals. Animal control officers transported the dogs to the Wake County Animal Center, where they will be euthanized.

Lawrence said he hadn’t had any issues with the neighboring dog.

“I thought that dog was all bark,” Lawrence said.

Sturgis said that even though the attack occurred in a backyard, there is a greater problem with dogs wandering loose in the neighborhood. Sturgis, whose bulldog was seriously injured by a pitbull in September, said she hopes the new city ordinance will empower animal control to do more to require dog owners to keep their pets secure.

“Until we get the loose dog situation under control, people will be at risk,” Sturgis said.

T. Keung Hui: 919-829-4534, @nckhui