Local resident seeks a pit bull ordinance after his dog was
mauled by a pair of pit bulls that had attacked another dog over
Morgan Hill – Police shot and killed one pit bull after it attacked another dog on E. Main Avenue after it and another pit bull escaped from their nearby backyard. Now the owners of the injured dog are urging the city to pass a pit bull ordinance.
The pit bull had already been identified as dangerous by local police for attacking another dog earlier this summer.
“They (the pit bulls) were across the street, and they just ran over and attacked our dog, they went for her throat,” said Joyce Peterson, owner of Amber, the 7-year-old Finnish Spitz that was attacked at 10:30am Sunday.
Peterson said her husband, Bert Berson, 67, was walking Amber on a leash on the south side of E. Main Avenue between Carriage Lamp Drive and Montoya Circle when the attack occurred.
Berson fell down as he tried to pull the two pit bulls off Amber, and though he is “sore all over and cut up,” he refused medical treatment. Amber, however, required three hours of surgery for a variety of injuries, including a punctured lung. Her prognosis is good, Berson said.
The pair are grateful for the help of a passing motorist, Eric Benson, who stopped and hit the pit bulls with a stick until they let go of Amber. According to MHPD Cmdr. Terrie Booten, as an officer arrived on scene, both dogs were in the driveway at 585 E. Main Ave. and charged the officer, forcing him to shoot in self-defense.
The second pit bull involved in the attack was tranquilized by Animal Control officers, and, according to Booten, will likely be euthanized.
The same pair of pit bulls attacked a mother and her two daughters while they were walking their dog in July and were labeled “potentially dangerous” with Level 1 restrictions.
According to the city’s municipal code, if a dog has been designated a “Level 1 potentially dangerous dog,” it must be restrained by a physical device or structure when outside the owner’s home that prevents it from getting off of the property. When off the property, the Level 1 dog must be on a leash under the control of someone who is at least 18 years old and is physically able to control the animal.
The event was one of several pit bull attacks in Morgan Hill over the last few months.
Also in July, a pit bull being walked by its owner in the same area broke free and attacked a boxer being walked on the other side of the street. In August, a pit bull was shot on Spring Hill Road as an officer attempted to return it to its yard after it charged a neighbor.
Berson said he will pursue an anti-pit bull ordinance similar to one in the city of Denver, Colo – which prohibits Denver residents from owning, possessing, keeping, exercising control over, maintaining, harboring, transporting or selling any pit bull. If a Denver resident owned a pit bull before 1990, the dog could be kept by its owner, but with strict control requirements.
Booten said the city’s dangerous dogs ordinance is has been effective in dealing with animals that attempt to attack other dogs or people. The ordinance, which was created in response to the fatal mauling in Morgan Hill of 2 1/2-year-old James Soto in the 1980s, allows the police department to designate dogs as dangerous.
“It provides us enough control, once we identify a dangerous animal, to require certain things of its owners,” Booten said Monday. “It also gives us guidelines to identify animals that are vicious, and then we take appropriate action. We typically don’t have a problem with compliance, and fortunately, we have not had that many incidents related to pit bulls.”
Booten said officers would apply the restrictions of the ordinance to any dog deemed dangerous, not strictly pit bulls.
“We evaluate each case regardless of the type of dogs involved,” she said. “If we have repeat offenders, and in some cases we have, and owners have relinquished ownership of the animal to us.”