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By Carmen Ensinger
Winchester Animal Control Officer Leigh Winner spoke before the city council at their Aug. 2 meeting asking the council for a stiffer penalty for pet owners who do not control their animals.
“I would like to request that an ordinance violation fine be set in place for animals found to be off leash and off an owner’s property or on leash and being allowed to defecate outside the owners yard,” Winner’s said. “Situations have arisen where certain dogs in town have been found to be off leash multiple times. I have spoken to the owner several times and now it is time to have a fine for the violation in the future, otherwise it is just going to continue to happen.”
Another problem that is occurring is people letting their dogs defecate in other people’s yards and not picking it up.
“The neighbors are complaining as these dogs have been defecating in their yards, driveways and even on their patios and porches,” Winner said. “We have a leash law and a set fine that I could issue through the city that would help with the first problem, but I don’t think that ordinance covers this. That ordinance should also be made to cover people who are walking their dogs and constantly letting them defecate in the streets and other people’s lawns without picking it up. I’ve had to make multiple calls to the same person to try and get them to pick up the feces.”
Winner suggested a fine of $25 for each occurrence payable to city hall.
Another, even more important issue Winner brought up had to do with aggressive dogs and concerned an incident that occurred two weeks ago when a woman with four large dogs had two of the younger dogs attack the older dog severely injuring the older dog.
“I get a call from dispatch telling me to get to this house immediately and when I get there, I see a State cop there pulling out a shotgun and a city cop there with his handgun pulled on the dogs who have attacked this older dog who I thought was dead,” Winner said. “Becky Lashmett was there and said it was the worst dog fight she had ever seen.”
Winner said she was able to talk to the owner about the dogs.
“I told her that with their aggressive nature that it was not possible to get them into a rescue,” Winner said. “She worked well with me – signed them over to me and I had them humanely euthanized.”
The older dog that was attacked did not die and is recuperating at home. The other dog is a young male around 80 pounds.
“I made the suggestion to her that when she has him outside to keep him in a kennel,” Winner said. “Jacksonville has an ordinance that if a dog has two instances of aggressiveness and is deemed vicious by animal control that the owner must keep that dog in a kennel when it is outside of the home.”
Winners wants Winchester to have a similar ordinance.
“I would suggest some type of ordinance that if a dog shows aggressiveness towards any member of the community that the dog be required when outside and not with the owner that they be required to be in a kennel and not on a tie out,” she said. “Other counties do have such regulations that after three such occurrences of aggressive behavior the dog can be deemed dangerous by animal control and only allowed in a kennel.”