By Eric Rosane / [email protected]
The Lewis County Dangerous Animal Designation (DAD) Board voted 2-1 this week to designate two dogs as “dangerous” after the couple chased a neighbor’s horse and maimed a cat during of two separate incidents reported earlier this year.
The council heard oral arguments from dog owners and the county in a quasi-judicial hearing on Wednesday. The designation includes the possibility of euthanasia, but other options for care and long-term reporting compliance exist.
Under the Lewis County Code, animals can be considered “potentially dangerous animals” if they chase or approach a person in public spaces in a “threatening fashion or demeanor. apparent attack, or any animal having a particularly known propensity, tendency or disposition to attack without provocation. , cause injury or otherwise endanger the safety of humans or pets.
The board considered the animals to be dangerous under this definition.
The dogs in question are a male husky named Lobo and a female Rottweiler named Karma. The animals belonged to Miguel Munoz, a resident of Winlock at the time of the incident, although they were turned over to the Lewis County Animal Shelter on May 5.
Lobo continues to be in possession of the county, but Karma was adopted on May 10 by Chehalis resident Rebecca Nichols, who has since appealed the designation. In documents, she said that she “didn’t think this animal was heard fairly. I think this decision was based on the fact that she was a Rottweiler. I have cats and chickens and she doesn’t. ‘never bothered these animals. “
Bill Teitzel, supervisor and code compliance officer for Lewis County Environmental Health, said a successful appeal process would cover both animals since the unique designation covers both animals.
“This is quite an unusual case. It doesn’t usually end like that, ”he said of the change in ownership.
The designation stems from two incidents that occurred earlier this year.
On the morning of January 31, a resident living in the 100 block of Kakela Road called the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office to report that she had woken up to find two dogs threateningly chasing her two horses in her pasture.
According to sheriff’s office documents, the woman discharged her gun “several times” into the ground to stop the dogs, but they did not.
The deputy transported the two animals to the Lewis County Animal Shelter, as there were no address identification chips or badges, and the dogs were later picked up by Munoz. It is not known if the horses sustained any damage from the incident.
The second incident occurred around 10 a.m. on April 28 near the 700 block of Nevil Road. According to a deputy’s report, the declarant told the officer that she saw her neighbor’s two dogs chasing her 9-year-old cat.
“She said she ran after them yelling at them to scare them off, which she did and found her cat bleeding from her stomach and hind legs,” the report read. She also told the deputy that she believed her cat would survive the incident.
During his testimony, Munoz told the board that he installed an electric fence around the perimeter of their fence after the second incident and that he had no problems with animals disobeying the perimeter before the ‘incident.
Munoz said the cat had also been seen several times in his koi pond, but could not provide any evidence as to whether the cat was in the pond when the chase broke out.
Designating animals as dangerous has been a balancing act for the Lewis County Environmental Health Coordinating Department, Public Health and Human Services in recent years. A well-known fiasco that unraveled for several years with a dog named Tank – which was adopted by animal shelter officials after renaming him Hank – led to the creation of the board of directors.
The creation of the Citizen-Led Council between 2018 and 2019 was intended to bring more transparency and oversight to the nomination process.
A first-time dog owner just a few years ago, Munoz said he struggled to train Lobo, the male husky.
“The reason I came here today is to say that I really care about my dogs. I don’t want them to be slaughtered,” Munoz told the board, adding that it was difficult to ‘abandon the dogs.
He said he respectfully disagreed with the designation of the two dogs as dangerous, especially since Karma the Rottweiler was simply following Lobo’s lead. He said he hopes the board will consider allowing Lobo to be adopted by a more suitable coach than himself.
Eric Eisenberg, Lewis County’s senior deputy civil prosecutor who served as the council’s legal adviser, said Nichols could pursue the dangerous dog designation, which would require county registration and other warrants with Karma, if his appeal falls flat.
“There are a lot of different options… But that’s not the case if your dog is considered dangerous, euthanasia is the immediate process that follows,” he said.
Eisenberg said leaving dangerous animals at the shelter would likely result in euthanasia. He said he was not sure about Lobo’s future since he is currently being held at the shelter.
When Lobo and Karma were returned to the shelter in May, staff who were unaware of their story said the two dogs were “friendly, healthy and highly adoptable,” according to case documents.