Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Resident attacked by pit bull

By Joshua Clark, from Branson Tri-Lakes News

Branson, MO

Branson resident Gilbert Nichols said he and his dog were attacked earlier this month by a neighbor’s dog and he said he would support Branson Aldermen considering an ordinance that would ban pit bulls from the city.

Nichols, a longtime Branson resident, said on June 12 he was walking Floppy, his half-shih tzu, half-spaniel, when a neighbor’s pit bull came under a fence and attacked both he and Floppy. The incident occurred on Roost road, which runs between S. 3rd Street and E. 2nd Street.

“I walk my dog around the block every afternoon, always on a leash,” Nichols said. “The (pit bull) on the corner, sometimes he doesn’t even come out, sometimes he just sniffs and other times he comes charging to the fence, and thank God the fence has been there.”

According to Nichols, he and Floppy were finishing up their walk when the pit bull came underneath the fence and attacked.

“It was all over in about 15 seconds,” he said. “I never saw anything happen so fast in my life.”

As the pit bull latched on Floppy, Nichols attempted to separate the two. That’s when he said the pit bull turned his attention on him.

“I went down to get my dog out of the way, and he clamped on to me,” he said. “He really did a number on my arm. I’ve never had anything so painful.”

Nichols said he believes one of the residents where the dog lives called the pit bull off. By the time the attack was over and Nichols stopped the bleeding, Branson Police Department, along with Taney County animal control, an ambulance and the fire department were all present, he said. Nichols was transported to the hospital and Floppy to a veterinarian.

Nichols sustained skin, muscle and tissue damage, which required 17 stitches, while Floppy’s right side was ripped open and required 10 inches of staples and nearly $800 in veterinarian bills. Floppy is still under the care of the veterinarian and should be released Thursday.

According to Taney County Animal Control, the pit bull was taken into custody and held for 10 days, as required by statutes.

“We verify whether or not the dog has had a rabies vaccination,” said Taney County Animal Control Supervisor Sherry Simpson. “If not, he is quarantined and observed for signs of rabies.”

If the dog shows no signs of rabies, it is given another vaccination and is released to the owners. Simpson said the dog was held for 10 days and released last week, but evidence of some of Nichols’ injuries only recently came to light.

According to animal control, they were unaware of the severity of Nichols’ injuries and are now in the process of having to go back and potentially deem the pit bull as vicious. A vicious dog is defined in Sec. 46-342 of the Taney County Animal Control Ordinances.

According to Simpson, animal control will now use the court system to have the dog removed if deemed vicious.

“We have contacted the prosecuting attorney,” Simpson said. “It is an ongoing investigation, and we’re going to follow the ordinance and go through the court system.”

Even though animal control is currently investigating, the fact remains the dog was returned to its owners earlier this week.

“I think it’s a vicious dog, naturally,” Nichols said. “I was surprised they released him back to the owners and now I think he’s been relocated, but I haven’t been down to look very close.”

Nichols’ neighbor Robb Horton said he hadn’t seen the pit bull in question in days. There is also concern with the fact there are several other pit bulls in the neighborhood, all on Nichols’ street.

“He is book-ended by pit bulls,” Horton said. “There are pit bulls at each end of his street. There are at least three of them in this neighborhood.”

While the attack on Nichols was unfortunate, dog attacks are hardly common in Branson, according to Simpson.

“I’ve been with this department for four years, and this is the first serious injury I’ve seen in my four years,” she said.

Branson’s Chief of Police Kent Crutcher said there have been a few incidents involving dog bites in Branson, but they were all minor.

“We’ve had a few with the homeowner and their own pet,” he said. “Something like this, where a neighbor’s dog causes significant injuries, this is the first in years.”

There was a pit bull attack reported recently in Rockaway Beach, and aldermen will discuss the possibility of a new ordinance that could prohibit or severely restrict residents of from owning specific breeds of dogs. When asked if he’d be in favor of such an ordinance Branson, Nichols responded quickly.

“Oh, hell yes,” he said. “I know they are loyal and sweet-tempered dogs, to a point, but they are also unpredictable.

“When they’re powerful and unpredictable, bad things happen.”

Branson Tri-Lakes News was unable to contact the owner of the pit bull prior to press time.

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