DOG ATTACK: Newton Changes Vicious Dog Policy

The City of Newton has changed its policy regarding vicious dog complaints following a Pit bull attack.  Earlier this month, three American Pitbulls either pushed their way out or jumped over the fence in their yard and mauled two dogs.

“They were pulling chunks of Andy off his body and so I just got down and covered his body and was shooing them away,” says Laurie Vanwyngarden.

She was bitten and clawed in the process, but Vanwyngarden did get her poodle to safety. Marley, her one and half-year-old Bichon Frise, didn`t make it.

“I wanted to get to him and I just couldn’t,” says Vanwyngarden.  “Marley didn’t have a chance.  I heard him yelp a couple times and I knew that he was dead.”

Vanwyngarden went to the city to get her neighbors Pitbulls declared vicious.

“I think they’ll do it again and they need to be put down,” she says.

Up until Monday, Police Chief Jeff Hoebelheinrich says Newton’s vicious dog ordinance included a two strikes policy.           

“It took two incidences where no one was injured and it did not matter if an animal was injured or not. After Monday’s ordinance, now if it does kill someone else’s pet, that will now make it declared vicious,” says Hoebelheinrich.

The law isn’t retroactive, meaning it doesn`t apply to Jessica White`s three Pitbulls.

“I feel bad that she lost it,” says White.  “If we would have been a couple seconds earlier, it probably wouldn’t have happened, it’s bad timing and bad fence.”

White and her fiance were cited for having a dog at large.  Their Pitbulls spent two weeks in quarantine and will return home.  They plan to fix the fence so the dogs can’t escape.

“They’re not aggressive. They’re vicious dogs,” says White.

“I wouldn’t have a dead dog if her dogs weren’t vicious.  I wouldn’t have been attacked if they weren’t vicious,” says Vanwyngarden.

Under the city’s new police, vicious dogs have to be muzzled in public, have insurance, be microchipped and owners must pay an extra fee.  In the last year, Newton police have responded to 18 bite calls. 

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