Your dog…your property…your responsibility

Published 10:46 am Thursday, April 5, 2012

Hopefully over the next few days we’ll be advised of any criminal charges lodged against the owner of a pit bull that viciously attacked a small dog and its owner.

Without mincing words, it’s our hope that those charges are as severe as the attack.

On a beautiful, early spring afternoon, an elderly Ahoskie woman was enjoying a leisurely walk with her pet Dachshund. Neither would harm a fly, and we here at Roanoke-Chowan Publications know that to be factual as this gentle spirited woman and her equally friendly dog are frequent visitors to our office.

Ruby Baker and “Snoopy” use our parking lot for their near daily stroll. As is often the case, Mrs. Baker and “Snoopy” grace us with their presence, stopping by for a quick chat.

But it doesn’t really matter if we were acquaintances of Mrs. Baker and her dog or not. Neither should it matter that Sunday’s attack occurred in our parking lot. Like many we have spoken with over recent days, we’re appalled that it’s not completely safe just to take a leisurely walk in town….or just west of town following last week’s warning from the Sheriff’s Office that a pack of five wild dogs are on the loose.

Addressing Sunday’s incident, we feel North Carolina General Statutes are clear….. The owner of a dangerous dog that attacks a person and causes physical injuries requiring medical treatment in excess of $100 shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor (GS 67-4.3); and the owner of a dangerous dog shall be strictly liable in civil damages for any injuries or property damage the dog inflicts upon a person, his property, or another animal (GS 67-4.4).

A dangerous dog, by State Statute, is defined as one that without provocation has killed or inflicted severe injury on a person…..or inflicted a bite on a person that resulted in broken bones or disfiguring lacerations or required cosmetic surgery or hospitalization; or killed or inflicted severe injury upon a domestic animal when not on the owner’s real property; or approached a person when not on the owner’s property in a vicious or terrorizing manner in an apparent attitude of attack.

We hope that the findings of law enforcement officials investigating this case will send a loud and clear message to all dog owners that they need to do the right thing….if you own an animal, be responsible for its actions; keep yourself clear of liability by keeping your dog on a leash and/or safely penned.

– The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald