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Victoria County Commissioners to discuss dangerous dogs

By Melissa Crowe
March 31, 2012 at 11 p.m.
Updated March 30, 2012 at 10:31 p.m.


IF YOU GO

WHAT: Commissioners Court discussion on aggressive breeds

WHEN: 10 a.m., Monday

WHERE: Victoria County Courthouse, 2nd floor, 115 N. Bridge St.

How Victoria County defines vicious animal

"Any individual animal or any species that has on two previous occasions, without provocation, attacked or bitten any person or other animal, or any individual animal which the Local Health Authority has reason to believe has a dangerous disposition likely to be harmful to humans or other animals."

Victoria County Commissioners are looking for answers on how to deal with recent and numerous dog attacks.

With the help of Jim Allison, general counsel for the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas, commissioners are set to discuss on Monday their options regarding dangerous dogs and animals.

County Judge Don Pozzi said the issue was being discussed because of the number of calls, questions and concerns from county residents. Because the court's general counsel from Austin will be in Victoria that day to discuss sexually oriented business regulations, it seemed like a good time to discuss dangerous animals, Pozzi said.

"Basically he can explain what options there are, if any, what can be done and what cannot be done," Pozzi said. "But the bottom line is, it's on the agenda because of calls and concerns."

While he said several calls have come from residents wanting the court to pass a ban on certain breeds, Pozzi pointed out that the court does not have the authority to do that.

"There are some statutes that allow us to deal with vicious animals. Unfortunately, most of those instances occur after an incident," he said.

Lauren Lightfoot, a 19-year-old Texas A&M student who grew up in Victoria County, said it is "sad people are giving pit bulls a bad name."

If commissioners decide to regulate aggressive dogs, Lightfoot said, they should regulate all dogs.

"I think they need to not blame the dogs, blame the owners," she said.

Before she got Diesel two years ago, she had wanted nothing to do with the breed. Now, she is a convert and plans on getting a pure-bred male when she has children in the future.

"If Diesel ever turned on me, she would either be put down immediately or she would get a second chance," Lightfoot said. "If my male I'm planning on getting attacks or kills my children, I will have my dog killed. I will accept responsibility."

Even if that responsibility included jail time, she said, "I feel like I'm willing to take the risk because I have so much faith in these dogs."

Others are not so willing to make those risks.

Commissioner Gary Burns said the "tipping point" for him was Monday morning - day two of the search for a 4-year-old Victoria County boy who later was found dead, mauled by a pit bull half-a-mile from his home.

"I can't imagine what the parents are going through," Burns said. "When they told the grandmother and the parents, we were all crying. I also see it in our law enforcement officers. It's so traumatic."

That death was ruled an accident. The dog was on a 10-foot chain.

Burns said he hopes the county can find a solution before another incident occurs.

"I really don't know what to do," Burns said. "The state Legislature is pretty specific that you can't do a breed-specific ordinance, you can't even do several breeds (in an ordinance)."

He suggested keeping vicious dogs behind a fence rather than tethering, but said the court will learn more after discussing the issue with Allison.

"Part of our job is to try to make things better in the county and serve the people," he said. "It's way too common. I'll be honest, I don't have an answer, I don't have a clue."

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