MOUNT VERNON — A problem with dogs running loose in the Pleasant Street area, with one of them killing a pet cat, was brought to the Knox County Commissioners, Thursday afternoon.
John and Pam Morrison told the commissioners that the Animal Control Officer didn’t seem to be able to do anything about the problem, and when they called to report the attack on their cat, they didn’t even get a return call. Mrs. Morrison was upset that she wound up having to go to the Animal Control Office to file a report.
Dog Warden Jim St. Clair said he did not know why the Morrisons’ call had not been returned and he would check on it.
As for the dogs, (there are apparently five, all of which are from the same property), St. Clair said they have had repeated complaints about dogs running loose. He showed a file which contained several incident reports and said the most recent was a citation for failure to obtain licenses for the dogs. The deadline for them to obtain licenses is today.
He explained that if his officers find any of the dogs running loose they can pick them up, but that it’s difficult to get a judge to order a dog picked up.
“We need to build a case,” St. Clair said. “That’s why we’ve compiling this,” displaying the folders.
He said they’ve been to the house several times in the past on dog complaints, with the latest visit being to issue a citation for failure to obtain dog licenses. They have until today to obtain licenses or no longer keep the dogs.
Morrison gave the commissioners a letter describing how, at noon on May 8, they were informed by a neighbor that she thought their cat was dead and lying in her yard. The neighbor said she had seen the cat being attacked by a miniature pinscher about 7 a.m. and that she recognized the dog as being from the house with the five dogs.
The cat, a 13-year-old male with a leg and an eye missing, was found dead in the woman’s yard.
Mrs. Morrison then called Animal Control, but could only leave a message.
About 3 p.m. an Animal Control officer called (Morrison could not recall his name) and Morrison described what had happened. The officer said they could come in and file a report, but that not much was likely to happen.
However, he said, they could photograph the cat and file a civil action.
Morrison said he could not understand why nothing could be done about a dog killing someone’s pet and that sooner or later one of the dogs running loose was going to attack a child.
Commissioner Allen Stockberger said he understood that under the current law there were sanctions possible against dogs that attacked people or another dog, but not if it attacked a cat or a wild animal.
St. Clair said the law will change May 22, at which time provisions of the new vicious dog law will give a judge more leeway in ruling that an action can be considered that of a dangerous dog.
The Morrisons said they would not file a complaint against the dogs’ owners with the court, but urged that something be done before a child is attacked.
The commissioners said they would wait and see what happens when Animal Control checks on the licenses today and suggested Animal Control drive through the neighborhood more often in hopes of seeing the dogs loose.
Although the miniature pinscher was seen attacking the cat, other dogs mentioned as having been running loose were a Rottweiler and a white German shepherd.