Controversy Continues Over Proposed 'Dangerous Dog' Ordinance

Published: Nov. 30, 2005 at 5:33 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 5, 2006 at 8:31 PM EST
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By Connie Leonard

(LOUISVILLE) -- Public hearings have now been set for January as the debate about an ordinance declaring pit bulls potentially dangerous dogs continues. We've heard from many pit bull lovers who defend the breed, but WAVE 3 Investigator Connie Leonard recently spoke with families who have experienced a mauling first hand as well as a local vet who has a warning of other potentially deadly dog breeds that are making their way into Kentuckiana.

Three members of the community with three vicious dog stories.

Kim Durall can't get the attack of her 2-year-old nephew, Noah, out of her mind.

((They were giving the dog a treat, and the dog just went straight past the treat and just got Noah.

Noah's mother was at her boyfriend's home when his normally loving pit bull snapped. The dog clamped down on Noah's head, ripping off his scalp and his ear.

"It saddens me when people say: 'my pit bull would never do that, I've got the sweetest dog in the world.' I'm sure Mark thought his dog was the sweetest dog in the world."

Kim says she's speaking out because she's had enough. "It seems like every day there's another pit bull attack."

Two people were killed in pit bull attacks in November in Louisville; and just days ago in Texas, 76-year-old Lillian Styles was killed trying to mow her lawn when six of her neighbor's pit bull-rotweiller mixes ran onto her property.

It took a gun to get the dogs off her.

A man who tried to help the great grandmother was also attacked, and he said "I just feel extremely lucky to get out with my life."

Pam McDermott from Louisville never worried about her children playing outside. Until now. "It's been very upseting for our whole family but especially for the children."

The upsetting event happened when their family cat of 15 years killed when a woman walking two pit bull mixes lost control of the animals, and they ripped the cat apart. It had to be put down immediately.

But even most troubling was the fact that her kids were playing with the cat in the yard just before the attack.

"There are several small, small children on this street," McDermott said, "and it's a shame we have to worry about this kind of thing."

Lousiville Veterinarian Dr. Damon Campbell told us he is done taking chances with dangerous dogs. He says "a bite with a pit bull is probably worse than any other dog bite."

Campbell now has a set of rules owners must follow when they bring a dog capable of inflicting lethal injuries. "They have to be muzzled. They have to be on a leash, and you have to have somebody that can handle them. Otherwise, I won't see them."

Dr. Campbell is not only concerned about pit bulls, but about the new breeds people are calling pets -- most recently, the Cane Corso and the Presa Canario.

"Yes, they are here in Louisville and I've seen several of them," Campbell said.

You may remember the Presa Canario breed from the fatal San Francisco dog mauling that made national headlines in 2002 when 33-year-old Diane Whipple was found in her apartment building hallway in a pool of blood.

Whipple's neighbor couldn't control her two Presa Canarios -- a mix breedof mastiff and pit bull. "You're talking about a dog that's basically like a giant pit bull that weighs over 100 to 125 pounds."

The jury found that the owners, who had ties to prisoners selling the dogs on the Internet, were responsible for Whipple's death.

Majorie Knoller admitted she watched the dogs attack Whipple, and the judge had no sympathy. "You knew those dogs were dangerous, you knew you could not control them -- you took 'em outside anyway."

Knoller spent two years behind bars. Dr. Campbell believes Louisville's dog ordiance must also be backed by the courts.

"It doesn't do any good to write a ticket and then the judge throw them all out."

As the former head of Louisville Animal Control in the 60s, Campbell sympathizes with the current director, saying "he doesn't have the personnel to enforce the law that he has now."

There are just too many dogs, Campbell says, to keep track of.

In the same west Louisville neighborhood where 6-year-old Hulon barbour was killed by two pit bull mixes in November, we found a rotweiler mix roaming the alleys. And we spotted a pit bull, not altered, chained in his yard in the pouring rain.

"They do need to pass an ordinance. They need to put the teeth in it, and the courts need to back it up, but until that happens, I don't see anything good happening.

Dr. Campbell believes the metro council should, at the minimum, double the staff for Animal Services, which would bump it up to 30 employees. He believes serious fines and jail time for careless owners is the only way to really solve the problem.

The first public hearing to discuss the proposed pit bull ordinance was set for January 9th at p.m. in council chambers at Metro Hall. Call 311 for more information.

Online Reporter: Connie Leonard

Online Producer: Michael Dever