Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dog in own yard declared potentially dangerous

By Tracy Overstreet, The Grand Island Independent

A dog leashed to a tree in its own yard that bit a puppy that ran into the yard was declared Wednesday as a potentially dangerous dog.

The Grand Island Animal Advisory Board made the declaration following an appeal hearing at Grand Island City Hall.

"My dog is the one that got attacked by a dog that came to my house," said the dog owner, Leandro Vazquez. "I don't see my dog as the one that is potentially dangerous. It's on my property."



According to city code, Vazquez will now need to build a covered kennel in which to keep Luna, a 5-year-old pit bull mix. When Luna is not inside her home at 1216 N. Greenwich, or in the kennel, she will need to be leashed and muzzled, the advisory board stated.

The verdict comes after an Oct. 16 incident in which Luna was leashed outside and two neighborhood dogs entered Vazquez's yard. Vazquez said one was a large black dog and the other a small beige dog that bit him as he tried to break up the dog fight that ensued.

The small beige dog was Baby Girl, an 8-week-old golden retriever owned by Jeanie Nichols, 924 W. Ninth. Nichols said she also has a black lab, but it was not involved in the incident.

Nichols said her puppy ran across the street into Vazquez's yard and as she ran after to get the puppy, Vazquez let his dog off the chain. The pit bull then grabbed the puppy and shook it until Nichols pulled the pit bull's tail. Vazquez grabbed the puppy and handed it back to Nichols and was then bit by his own dog, Nichols said.

Vazquez said his dog was never let off the leash. It did bite the puppy in the neck, but it didn't bite him, he said.

He said the puppy grabbed onto his thumbs as he tried to break up the fight. When he tried to pull his thumb from the puppy's mouth, the skin on his thumb tore, which required 11 stitches.

Animal advisory board member Dr. Melissa Girard-Lemons said although Luna was on her own property, she exhibited aggressive behavior. That's behavior that could be dangerous to a child or an adult meter reader or technician walking onto Vazquez's property.


She also raised questions about Vazquez's injury being caused by small puppy teeth. She thought photos of the injury looked more consistent with large canines from an adult dog, such as Vazquez's pit bull.

Girard-Lemons said Vazquez essentially put his dog in jeopardy by leaving it unattended outside in the yard.

Humane Society Director Laurie Dethloff agreed, saying that pit bull owners need to be particularly vigilant about protecting their own dogs by staying with them in the yard.

Vazquez had another solution.

"Have your dog on a leash and don't let it come to my house," he said.

Police Chief Steve Lamken moved that Luna be declared potentially dangerous due to the lack of aggression puppies show and Vazquez's own responsibility for his own dog. Girard-Lemons seconded the motion and the board voted unanimously in favor of the declaration.

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