COVINGTON — The Newton County Animal Control Board on Thursday voted unanimously to designate a German shepherd that bit a woman as a “dangerous” dog.
Newton County Animal Control Director Cindy Wiemann had designated the dog as “dangerous” after it bit Cherri Duckworth on Feb. 9 in the Heritage Pointe subdivision in the Oak Hill area. Owner Daryl Turner appealed Wiemann’s decision in a public hearing before the board on Thursday.
According to testimony at the hearing, Duckworth was mowing the grass Feb. 9 with a push mower at her twin sister’s new home on Edgewater Court when the dog escaped from Turner’s 13-year-old son. An Animal Control officer reported that the dog “bum rushed” Duckworth and bit her on the right arm just above the elbow, leaving deep puncture wounds.
Designation as a dangerous dog carries with it a number of requirements under the county’s Animal Control Ordinance. Turner must register the dog with Animal Control and pay a $50 annual fee. A registration certificate will be issued only after Turner provides a secure enclosure for the dog, posts signs warning of the dangerous dog on all entrances, and has the dog surgically sterilized and microchipped.
Turner said he was reluctant to have the dog, named Ebonii, spayed.
“It would be a shame to have her neutered,” he said.
He said he would be willing to give any puppies the dog might have to law enforcement.
Turner expressed his regret to Duckworth at Thursday’s hearing and said he would do everything possible to prevent the dog from biting again. He said he plans to install a fence at a cost of about $3,000.
“I want you to know it won’t ever happen again - ever,” he said. “It just won’t.”
Turner said he bought the dog, which is now about 3 years old, for protection after several men tried to break into his home. Turner said he bought the dog from a friend for $300. He said the friend normally sells the puppies for $1,200.
In response to questions from Animal Control board members, Turner admitted that he had not had the dog trained or socialized. Turner said the dog is kept inside the house or in a crate in the garage.
“She’s very protective of my family,” said Turner. “She needs to be trained — she definitely needs to be trained. I’m definitely at fault for that.”
Turner said when the dog got loose on Feb. 9 his son had taken it out of the garage using a long rope as a lead.
Duckworth said she froze when the dog attacked, having been told never to run from a dog. She said the dog let go of her arm after Turner’s son pulled it away by the rope.
After the incident, the dog was taken into custody by Animal Control. Because Turner did not have proof that it had been vaccinated against rabies, Turner had the dog quarantined at a local vet’s office. The vet reported that the dog exhibited aggressive behavior and charged at the door of its crate when employees walked by.