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Dog Bites Concern Village of Belmont Mayor Stan Sobel

Belmont Mayor Stan Sobel wants residents to make sure their dogs are properly secured following a pair of dog biting incidents Sunday in the village.

Sobel said a German shepherd allegedly broke off its chain and bit a man and his dog, which was on a leash, while they were walking near the Belmont Post Office. The man’s dog’s leg was severely injured and needed surgery at a veterinarian’s office Sunday evening to repair a severed artery. The German shepherd also bit the man’s hand while he was trying to pick up his dog as it was being attacked, Sobel said.

Sobel added that there was another biting incident Sunday involving the same German shepherd. A different village resident was walking his dog in the same general area when the German shepherd also attacked his pet. That dog’s owner shared on social media that the German shepherd came from Market Street to Main Street to attack their dog. They also wrote that their pet suffered three broken ribs and required stitches for her injuries.

The mayor said a village police officer interviewed the shepherd’s owner and the owners of the victim dogs on Monday. He said it would be up to the officer whether to cite the owner of the German shepherd for violating the village’s leash ordinance. Sobel said that legislation requires all pets to be on a leash any time they are off the owner’s property.

Sobel said he contacted village Solicitor T.J. Schultz, who told him an attack on a dog by another dog is a civil matter. Sobel said he did not know if a dog biting a person is a criminal matter. He also was unsure whether the case would come before his Mayor’s Court or Belmont County Western Division Court.

“Personally, I think we’ve got too many dogs loose in the village, and this is a good example of what happens to the safety of the village. People need to have their dogs on a leash or tied up,” Sobel said.

“I don’t know all the specifics. … We’ve had complaints about the same dog now for awhile. I don’t know what’s true or not true. It’s hearsay.”

Sobel said he has not yet viewed the officer’s final report.

“I hope our residents take heed and secure their animals whether they are walking them or putting them outside so things like this don’t occur again,” he said.

Sobel said he did not know if the German shepherd’s rabies vaccination and other shots were up to date. He said the dog’s yard is not fenced and noted that a dog’s owner is liable for any injury the animal causes.

According to Ohio Revised Code, “no person shall remove a dog that has bitten any person from the county in which the bite occurred” until a 10-day quarantine period has been completed. A person may, however, transfer the dog to the county dog warden or to any other animal control authority.

“The owner, keeper, or harborer of a dog is liable in damages for any injury, death, or loss to person or property that is caused by the dog,” the code also states.

Belmont County does not have its own legislation regarding dog control, according to Commissioner Mark Thomas, as those matters are governed by state law. He said only cities and villages can establish such ordinances, and the ORC states those measures must comply with state law.

In 2017, for example, St. Clairsville City Council unanimously approved a breed-neutral ordinance to regulate vicious dogs in that community. It requires owners of dogs that are deemed vicious to obtain $100,000 in liability insurance coverage. That city already had a leash law similar to Belmont’s in place prior to passage of that measure.

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