Control Dogs Of Any Breed

More needs to be known about a reported dog attack in St. Clairsville before too many conclusions are reached. One thing seems apparent, however: After a woman’s dog bit a man, she left the scene.

City police were called to the Veterans Affairs clinic in St. Clairsville on Tuesday. There, they found a man with extensive injuries to his arm, as a result of being bitten by a dog. He told officers the animal, possibly a pit bull, was being walked by a woman when it attacked him.

She then walked away, the victim told police.

Earlier this year, St. Clairsville City Council enacted an ordinance aimed at controlling vicious dogs. The measure initially had specified pit bulls, but criticism prompted council members to delete that provision. As the ordinance stands, it requires owners of any breed of dog believed to be vicious to take certain steps to keep it under control.

After learning of the Tuesday incident, Mayor Terry Pugh noted that if the animal involved was a pit bull and had the ordinance been enacted with its initial breed-specific wording, the attack this week might have been prevented. The dog’s owner would have been required to keep it on a 3-foot leash, he explained.

At some point, officials may determine the breed of the dog involved — though as police Lt. Michael Troullos pointed out, that could be difficult. “There’s a lot of mixed breeds out there,” he explained. “It’s hard to tell.”

Tuesday’s attack may spur new calls to ban ownership of pit bulls, and perhaps other breeds, in St. Clairsville. It is too early to jump to that conclusion, however.

What is known is that a man was attacked by a dog, and the animal’s owner left the scene rather than summon police. Unless she had a very good reason for doing so, she should be held accountable under the law.

And if the victim’s account is accurate, the woman should be penalized severely. Setting an example in this case would do more good than rewriting the ordinance.