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Vicious Canine Edict Passes

Marshall County commissioners OK bad dog definitions

March 24, 2010

MOUNDSVILLE - A vicious dog ordinance takes effect in Marshall County today.

The ordinance states that a dog will be deemed vicious after it has bitten people on two occasions; under state law, a dog must administer three bites before being classified as vicious.

The ordinance further states that vicious dogs are a public nuisance. It defines a dangerous or vicious dog as:

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The Marshall County Commission on Tuesday passed an ordinance to classify vicious dogs and to give humane officers more authority in dealing with them.

According to the ordinance, a "severe injury" is any physical injury that results in broken bones or disfiguring lacerations or that requires surgery or hospitalization. An injury can include any breaking of the skin, with bleeding resulting from a bite.

Humane officers, a role filled by sheriff's deputies in Marshall County, are responsible for determining when a dog is dangerous or vicious. When such a determination is made, the dog can be seized by Animal Control officers or any appropriate law enforcement agency.

The ordinance also calls for the humane officer to communicate to the dog owner in writing, giving the reasons for determining their dog is vicious.

Any dog determined to be vicious or dangerous is to be disposed of by the Marshall County Animal Shelter in the same manner as it disposes of other dogs.

Before county commissioners approved the measure on second reading Tuesday, a public hearing was held on the matter. Two county residents, Sid P. Pond and Tim Richmond, voiced concern about the ordinance, especially regarding investigation of incidents. Pond and Richmond told commissioners they are involved in dog obedience training.

Commissioners Donald Mason and Jason "Jake" Padlow said that although the ordinance gives humane officers more authority, they are confident each incident will be thoroughly investigated.

Sheriff John Gruzinskas said the officers will interview victims and dog owners, along with others who might have knowledge connected with an incident.

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