HALEYVILLE - The owner of a pit bull faces a citation and is scheduled to be in Haleyville Municipal Court in February after her dog attacked a neighbor, causing serious injuries to the facial area.
Cynthia Ann Stockman, of 2504 15th Avenue, was instructed by Haleyville Police to put her dogs - including two large pit bulls and two pit bull puppies - inside her home, after the attack, which occurred around 4 p.m. on New Year’s Day, Wednesday, Jan. 1, noted Haleyville Police Chief Kyle Reogas.
Police issued Stockman a citation in violation of Municipal Ordinance 2005-01, regarding animals being allowed to run at large, and will face a court appearance Feb. 27, Reogas stated.
The Haleyville woman who was attacked outside her home on 15th Avenuewas transported from the scene by private vehicle to Lakeland Community Hospital in Haleyville, where she received treatment for injuries to the facial area, Reogas pointed out.
“The pit bull was off of the owner’s property and made an innocent individual subject to serious injuries,” Reogas pointed out.
The victim was outside her home when she saw the dogs and immediately told a neighbor, whose children were outside playing, to get her children back inside the house, police stated.
“As the victim was turning to go back into her home, the dog attacked her,” the chief stated.
The pit bulls were reportedly at least three to four houses away from the owner’s property when the attack occurred, police indicated.
“The victim stated she and her family were familiar with the dogs, and they were known to be vicious,” Reogas stated.
“The Winston County Health Department was notified, and is following up on their investigation as we speak,” he noted.
“Residents residing in the city limits are to be mindful that if you own a pet, you are required by ordinance to keep your pet confined to your property,” Reogas warned.
Mayor Ken Sunseri pointed out when an individual is bitten by a dog, the case is turned over to the health department.
“Animal control will not come out in a case where the dog is owned by an individual,” Sunseri pointed out, adding that animal control only responds if the dog is a stray.
“They will not go on private property to get an animal owned by an individual,” Sunseri added.
“If you own an animal, you are responsible for that animal and the behavior of that animal,” the mayor strictly warned. “If you own an animal, it’s your responsibility to keep it on your property.”
Ordinance 2005-01 was adopted in January, 2005, for the simple facts that, “animals can and sometimes do create a public nuisance, and such conditions are a menace to the safety and well-being of the citizens of Haleyville...and such conditions are contrary to Alabama state law,” the ordinance reads.
The ordinance notes it is unlawful for any owner to permit an animal to run at large within the city limits. The ordinance also points out that animals running at large must have on them some type of identification as defined in Article 1, Section 1.10 of the ordinance.
Any animal found without such identification shall be considered an animal “running at large” and shall be treated as such, according to the ordinance.
Any person found in violation of this article is subject to court costs and/or a fine of not less than $25 and not more than $250 and may be imprisoned or sentenced to jail or hard labor for a period not exceeding 30 days or both, at the discretion of the court, the ordinance reads.
“It shall be unlawful for any person to keep a vicious or dangerous animal within the city limits,” the ordinance further stated.
When any person claims that an animal is vicious, he shall make a sworn statement before a magistrate in the city, setting forth the name of the animal’s owner, the location where the animal is being kept in the city and the reason he/she believes the animal to be vicious, according to the ordinance.
The sworn statement may be completed by any person having contact with the animal, the ordinance reads. The sworn statement will be delivered to an animal control officer for further investigation, according to the ordinance.
If the investigation determines the animal to indeed be vicious, the owner of the animal will be summoned to municipal court, with the animal in question impounded at the animal shelter, a hearing set in municipal court and the animal being held in impound until the owner complies with all duties of the court, according to the ordinance.
The ordinance also reads that the animal being held in impound will be humanely destroyed if the owner fails to comply with all orders of the court within 10 days of the court order.
Whenever a person shall complain, in writing, concerning a public nuisance animal, the owner or keeper of said animal or animals will be notified by written warning that a complaint has been received and that the person should take whatever steps necessary to alleviate the specified nuisance, the ordinance points out.
If within 15 days of the issuance of the warning, the owner or keeper of said animal or animals has not remedied or made substantial progress toward remedying the specified nuisance, then the complainant shall have the right to appear before the city magistrate and complete an affidavit so a summons may be issued against the owner or keeper of the animal, according to the ordinance.
To promote the city’s interest in seeing that all animals are treated humanely and to ensure the well being of the citizens of the city, any animal control officer, city police officer or agent of the animal shelter is hereby authorized to impound an animal whenever he or she has reasonable cause to believe:
1) the animal is running at large in violation of this chapter or 2) the animal is the subject of an investigation for viciousness or found to be vicious pursuant to Article III of this ordinance.
“An animal control officer, city police officer or agent of the animal shelter is hereby authorized to enter upon private property to impound any animal observed at large and chased to said property,” the ordinance reads.
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.