By David Hotle, The JOURNAL
Although there have been fewer reports of loose dog attacks so far in 2018 than last year, Washington Police Chief Greg Goodman said his department is still receiving complaints, mostly from attacks within the home.
According to the Washington County call log, at 5:10 a.m. Tuesday, July 24, a caller in the 500 block of West Fifth Street in Washington reported being bitten by a pit bull. Officers and Washington County Ambulance responded. One subject was transported to the Washington County Hospitals and Clinics. Earnest Lee Shaw, of Washington, was cited for rabies vaccination violation. The dogcatcher seized the dog, which will be held in the pound for 10 days for observation.
Tuesday?s incident happened inside the home, according to Goodman. He reported the subject had been playing with the dog, who had just recently had puppies, when the bite occurred. He said the investigation is continuing and there has been no determination made if the dog would be declared vicious.
Not all dog bites are declared vicious attacks, Goodman said. The Washington Police Department investigates each dog bite case. All incidents involving animals are documented so officers will know if there is an ongoing issue. In dealing with animal complaints, officers may give the owner a written warning, a citation, or a civil infraction. With the civil infraction, officers can order more restrictions, such as quarantining the dog, having it removed from the city, or, in serious cases, ordering the dog to be humanely destroyed.
?Our officers have been diligent about when they run into a dog checking the status of rabies shots and they will write a ticket for rabies,? Goodman said. ?We are going to keep writing them so I urge people to have your dog vaccinated because it is less expensive than a ticket.?
Goodman also said in cases where there are habitual offenders, officers are going to go from writing citations to writing civil infractions, which carries a heavier fine than citations. He said the first instance has a $250 fine; second offense is $500; and all after are $750.
?We have had enough issues with them and our officers spend in my opinion far too much time with problem dogs,? Goodman said. ?We feel we need to get that under control.?
Goodman and the city?s mayor, Jaron Rosien, both agree the city?s animal ordinances are effective. Mayor Jaron Rosien agreed, saying, ?No ordinance is perfect, but in the majority of these circumstances the law is working and it is the people and their practices that are not. I hate every time I learn of a new incident, but the ordinance is working and it is the people taking care of their dogs that aren?t working like they should.?
Rosien said some of the positive changes that have been made include the requirement of a rabies vaccination before a dog is released from the pound.
Goodman also commented that if a dog bites someone and it is not vaccinated, the owner is responsible for fines, quarantine, and medical expenses.
?I think it is up to the owners now who have dogs to do what they are supposed to do because we are taking a pretty hard line on it because of the incidents we have had,? Goodman said. ?We don?t want to have people worry about walking down the street with their own dog. It isn?t fair of someone to walk down the street and be in fear of being bitten or chased.?
Washington?s ordinances do require dogs remain on a leash, even in the parks. Animal ordinances can be found on the front page of the Washington Iowa website.
Individuals who are attacked should try not to panic, as it may escalate the situation. They should contact the police immediately.