Alexandria council plans to toughen animal ordinance after dog attacks
April 19 – ALEXANDRIA – Last June, Tom Murray’s wife was run over and their dog suffered injuries resulting in a $2,400 vet bill after a brutal attack by another dog.
The other dog, believed to be a pit bull, attacked as she walked the family dog along the perimeter of the Alexandria Community Schools complex.
A week ago on Sunday, the same pit bull attacked another neighbor and killed his dog in virtually the same location as the dog Murray attack.
“We have the trauma that these two women went through, and now a beloved 13-year-old pet that was killed,” Tom Murray told Alexandria City Council at its Monday meeting.
The owner remains publicly anonymous, as does his address.
There are leash and rabies vaccination laws that the pit bull owner may have violated, but he only faces fines under current law, Alexandria’s attorney said, Jeff Graham. While he could face civil damages if those who were attacked bring him to justice, there are no criminal remedies in the current order, he said.
Murray wants to see the city implement an ordinance with more teeth. That’s why Graham is expected to return to city council in two weeks with a draft to insert into the existing animal control ordinance.
There is a bite law that covers how aggressive dogs should be treated, but it only applies to attacks on humans, not other animals, Graham said. Animals, he said, are considered property.
“You have to keep in mind that sometimes there are unintended consequences with these (laws).”
Although some may want to see a law that would require the euthanasia of an aggressive animal, Graham said that would be trickier.
“It’s the city that says, ‘I’m taking your property from you’.”
Alexandria Police Detective Jeremy Rasmussen told council there were two reports on file about the pit bull, but his hands were tied because current law allows no more than a fine, which must be pronounced by a judge.
There may have been other incidents, he added, but people are often reluctant to report animals for fear of how they will be treated by authorities.
“We’re at a point where it has to come from an order, and we have to be able to articulate it. It has to come from the courts,” he said. “You can tell it’s a vicious animal all day, but you have to be able to build the narrative with the courts.”
Murray said the pit bull’s owner apparently complied with orders to have the dog vaccinated.
“He never came to us worried about our loss,” he added.
Although the pit bull’s owner’s insurance paid the dog Murray’s veterinary bills, Tom Murray remains concerned, especially for the children playing on the school grounds across from where the pit bull lives. bull.
“All you have to do is cross the street and you’re on school property,” he said. “Their parents should be free from all sorts of worries when they send their children to school.”
Council President Patty Kuhn said she knows the pit bull well.
“I was walking down the street, and this dog came right at me,” she said. “This dog is dangerous. We just can’t let him hurt another person.”
Councilwoman Donna Key-Kerr called on Graham to write a stronger order.
“I don’t know why we are discussing this at this point,” she said. “I don’t want my grandson hanging out with this dog running around.”
Mayor Todd Naselroad said he was puzzled as to how the pit bull could have been involved in more than one incident.
“I wonder why the insurance company is still allowing them to have a dog after paying after the first incident.”
Follow Rebecca R. Bibbs on Twitter at @RebeccaB_THB, or call 765-640-4883.