Archived Story

Potentially dangerous dog appeal denied

Published 2:23pm Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Polk County Zoning Board of Adjustment upheld the animal control officer’s decision to deem two pit bulls as potentially dangerous following an appeal.

The zoning board heard testimony last month and made its decision on Jan. 2.

Dog owner Keenan Nesbitt appealed Polk County Animal Control Officer Michael Herman’s decision to deem his animals as potentially dangerous following a Nov. 2 incident where Nesbitt’s pit bull Brutus attacked Jennifer and Jason Wilson’s Jack Russell Terrier. The Jack Russell suffered lacerations and a collapsed lung, according to December testimony.

Nesbitt kept his dogs at the residence of Ashley Hannon on Keith Lane in Columbus who is the next-door neighbor of the Wilsons.

Polk County’s animal control ordinance defines a potentially dangerous animal as one that “inflicted a bite on a person for which the person sought or obtained medical treatment; 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.”

Julie Wilson testified that she witnessed the attack that she said occurred on her property while Brutus was off the chain. Hannon told the officer who responded to the attack that Brutus was still on his chain and the Jack Russell approached him. Nesbitt testified that in pictures entered into evidence from the Wilson’s that there was no blood where they said the attack occurred and when he arrived Brutus was on his chain and the blood was at his doghouse. Hannon did not testify and the zoning board’s findings of fact included that there were conflicting statements of where the attack occurred.

The zoning board’s deliberations and conclusions included that certain exhibits were unverified written statements or hearsay. Some exhibits submitted by Herman are unverified, according to the zoning board’s conclusions and Nesbitt’s testimony regarding Hannon’s account of the attack was hearsay.

“Moreover, Mrs. Hannon was not in appearance to present testimony, nor did Mr. Nesbitt ask her to appear or testify.  None of these are problematic to determining pertinent Findings of Fact, since other admissible testimony and evidence provides sufficient basis to determine whether the attacks occurred on Mr. Nesbitt’s property and whether the attacks caused serious injury,” states the deliberations and conclusions from the zoning board.

The zoning board determined, “On November 2, 2012, Mr. Nesbitt’s dog Brutus inflicted serious injury to a domestic animal, the Wilson’s Jack Russell terrier, while on property not owned or leased by Mr. Nesbitt.  In July 2012, Mr. Nesbitt’s dog Ieshia inflicted serious injury to a domestic animal, Mr. Nesbitt’s pit bull Layla, while on property not owned or leased by Mr. Nesbitt.  The Animal Control Director’s designation of Brutus and Ieshia as Potentially Dangerous Dogs is therefore proper and within his authority.  Mr. Nesbitt’s appeal is denied on merit.”

The zoning board additionally said that Nesbitt’s appeal was not filed within the required time period and must be denied on procedure. Appeal procedures require appeals to be filed within 10 days of notice and Nesbitt filed his appeal 11 days after notice, according to the zoning board’s findings of fact.

Potentially dangerous animals are required to be kept in a kennel or fenced area with a lock, according to Herman as well as “beware of dog” signs placed at the property. Potentially dangerous dogs are also required to be leashed and muzzled when off the property. If a potentially dangerous dog is sold, the animal control office has to be notified and has to be informed of where the dog is going to be located.

Nesbitt has 30 days from notice of the zoning board’s decision to appeal the decision to Polk County Superior Court.




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