We had our vicious dog hearing today and the result went as well as could be expected. As the hearing and results are open to the public, I have no qualms about stating the results here. The hearing was comprised of 3 members; the chief of police, a representative of the RI SPCA and a 3rd member from a neighboring cities Dog Officer.
The hearing opened with the panel reading the rules and regulations of the hearing, as well as the text of the statute and potential requirements should the dog be labeled as vicious. Each side is then allowed time to present their case and a verdict returned afterwards.
We arrived well equipped with copies of the police report, my statement of events, copies of vet bills and procedures and photographs. I was allowed to give my statement of events, followed by Maureen and then our neighbors.
At the end of testimony the panel then began to talk about the potential requirements and came back with a 3/0 ruling that this was a vicious, unprovoked attacked and that the dog was to be labeled as vicious. The panel also came back 3/0 on the following restrictions:
- The dog has been labeled vicious and will carry this determination for the rest of its life.
- The owners must maintain an insurance policy of at least $100,000 on the dog and also list the city in the policy. This, like a bank that is listed on a car insurance policy, ensures that if the policy is updated or cancelled, the city is notified.
- The dog must be micro-chipped.
- A sign stating “Vicious Dog On Property” must be placed on the propery and be clearly visible from the street. The sign must state Vicious Dog, not just beware of dog.
- The police must be notified if the dog is loose.
- Any time the dog is off of the owners property (walks, etc), it must be leashed and muzzled.
- The dog must be leashed or on a tie-out any time it is outside on the owners property.
- The dog must be spayed.
- If the owners move, they must notify both the current and new police departments.
- The owner cannot sell or give the dog away.
- The dog is not allowed to be present in any dog parks.
What is important about these requirements is that a failure to heed them will result in arrest of the owners and potential criminal charges filed. These restrictions are not optional for the dog owner.
The requirements that were declined by the panel at this time are:
– a requirement for a six sided (top, bottom and locking sides) enclosure for the dog when it is outside
– euthanizing the dog
We were not asking for the dog to be euthanized and are happy with the results of the hearing.
Unfortunately the pit bull owners weren’t completely truthful during the hearing and were trying to deflect the attack on Maya and myself saying that the pit bull did not come out and attack, but rather was sniffing around our dogs and then became scared and attacked.
Even with that false statement, the 3 member panel determined that even *if* that was the case, sniffing around another dog is not an act of provocation and does not justify the attack that happened on Maya.
The neighbors stomped out of the hearing as the panel was stating that the hearing simply was to determine whether the dog should be labeled as vicious and to retrieve the funds we have spent on injuries, surgeries, etc that it would have to be a civil matter or “we could just talk to the neighbors” – at which time they proceeded to walk out of the room mumbling derogatory comments towards/about us.
To ensure due process, the owners can appeal the ruling of the panel to a Judge. They have 5 days to decide on whether or not to appeal and if they do, the Judge can choose to modify the ruling of the panel by decreasing or increasing the requirements, including an order to euthanize.
So onto the next steps … it’s too bad that it has to be this way and that they are acting with hostility and contempt towards us.