Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

July 15, 2014

Bluefield officials to revisit enforcement of dog ordinance

BLUEFIELD — City officials plan to review codes regulating the ownership of pit bulls and other dogs in light of recent dog bite incidents.

One dog, a pit bull, was seized Saturday after it bit the left foot of a 17-year-old girl and it was taken to the Mercer County Animal Shelter, said Detective K.L. Adams of the Bluefield Police Department. Adams said Monday that the bite was not serious.

“The owner had no problem with it being taken because it had bitten a kid and she had several kids herself,” he said.

Three other dogs were tied to trees. None of the other dogs were confiscated, Adams said.

A dog was confiscated June 30 after it bit a 7-year-old boy on his arm. In this case, the canine was a Labrador retriever and chow mix. The dog’s owner had a total of nine dogs on her property. A court order was issued and the remaining dogs were taken the following day. The owner is facing charges in city court including harboring a vicious animal and a leash law violation.

Ordinances regarding the ownership were not followed in either dog bite case. Pit bulls and other dogs must be kept in a kennel with a roof, and the dog must still be on a leash while inside the kennel, Adams said. The owner of the Toledo Street dog had been warned previously that the dog was viscous; it had previously trapped a neighbor on his porch.

To enforce the city’s vicious dog law, you have to be able to prove that the dog is viscous, Adams said. In the Toledo Street case, the owner had been notified that her dog “had issues,” but did not take steps to prevent other incidents.

Mayor Tom Cole said the Bluefield City Board will check the city’s dog ordinances and their enforcement.

“My intention during our next meeting is to discuss that and evaluate how we’re doing,” Cole said. “We’re going to review it and then ensure that we have the right resources in place to enforce what is on the books.”

Cole did not know the number of citations that have been written ever since the city’s pit bull ordinance was enacted in April 2013. No new pit bull dogs can be brought into the city. Owners had a 10-day grace period after the ordinance was enacted to register their pit bull dogs.

“I will tell you we have written tickets and we have written citations in regard to that ordinance,” he said.

Interim City Manager Dennis Dillow and Assistant City Manager Joshua Cline were not available for comment Monday.

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