Police Cite Pit Bull Owners, Dogs Destroyed

Two residents face more than $5,000 in fines for pit bull
Morgan Hill – The owners of two pit bulls that attacked another dog on E. Main Avenue last week face more than $5,000 in fines after being cited by police this week. The dogs also attacked another woman last summer.

Josephine Walker was cited Monday. John Walker was not at the residence, but turned himself in two days later and was cited for failure to control a dangerous animal.

“There were five counts of misdemeanor dangerous animal violations,” MHPD Cmdr. Joe Sampson said. “Including failure to post warning signs, failure to have dog licenses, with penalties ranging up to $1,000 per count.”

The two pit bulls have both been destroyed. One of the animals was shot by a local police officer after it charged him following an attack on a 7-year-old Finnish Spitz last Sunday. The Spitz, named Amber, was severely injured in the assault, but is recovering.

“Her vet, Dr. Rick Leninger, said she is just amazing,” said Joyce Peterson, one of Amber’s owners. “She’s coming along just great. He said maybe they can take some of the tubes out on Monday, but not from her chest; it’s still bleeding and oozing.”

Amber and Peterson’s husband, Bert Berson, were on a walk Sunday morning along East Main Avenue when two pit bulls escaped from the backyard of 585 East Main Avenue and attacked Amber.

Berson, 67, was knocked down during the attack. Peterson said he is still very stiff and sore from the attack, but has not needed medical attention. Amber, on the other hand, went through three hours of surgery for a punctured lung and various injuries.

The dogs were labeled dangerous after an incident in July when they attacked a woman and her dog on a walk. “Level 2” dangerous dogs require a leash and harness on leaving the property and containment in a secure enclosure while on the property but not in the residence.

“They were warned last month to make sure they had the proper containment in place,” Sampson said. “For a while, they had, but then at some point, the dogs weren’t in the enclosure as they were supposed to be.”

As a result of the attack, Peterson and Berson are lobbying for an ordinance prohibiting pit bulls in Morgan Hill. Once they learned the dogs had attacked before, they said, they realized something needs to be done.

“I think what we need to see more of is the follow-up,” Peterson said Friday. “That’s where we need to focus. We need something to make it easier for police to keep us safe. We’re not about killing dogs, we’re about having the public feel safe.”

The couple will take their ideas to the Wednesday meeting of the Public Safety committee. They have talked with City Councilmembers and Mayor Dennis Kennedy. Councilman Steve Tate said he and Councilman Larry Carr are on the committee, which will consider the proposal and make a recommendation to the council.

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