Stone County considers vicious dog ordinance

STONE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Stone County wants to deal with vicious dogs. Board President Scott Strickland said in recent years the number of unprovoked attacks on people and pets has grown to the point where some residents are afraid to go out into their yards.

On Monday, the county will consider passing an ordinance that would give sheriff's deputies more authority to deal with the animals.

The Stone County SPCA cares for homeless and abandoned animals, but not vicious ones. The president said recently a family turned to the SPCA asking for help after dogs mauled a family pet as the family watched in horror.

"Now the daughter did call me and tell me what had happened thinking I could come and get the dogs," said Katie Stonnington Stone County SPCA President. "But we're not allowed to take personal property of people. We're not allowed to trespass. We're not trained to pick up and we don't have the liability insurance to pick up known vicious dogs."

For the first time Stone County is looking at passing a vicious dogs law that would give the animal control officer for the sheriff's department the authority to get an order to remove and impound dangerous dogs or potentially dangerous dogs.

The proposed ordinance defines a dangerous dog as one that causes injury to a person or domestic animal without provocation and a potentially dangerous dog as a dog that exhibits threatening behavior like chasing or menacing a person or domestic animal that is not trespassing.

Stone County Board President Scott Strickland said, "The safety of the general public is number one. It's going to give law enforcement some authority to put down these dogs that have a history of harming the public or domestic animals."

"I think it's wonderful. I think it's a first step and a step that's very much needed. It's a step that protects the citizens and the animals of the citizens," said Stonnington. "If there is a known vicious dog somebody shouldn't worry every time they go out on their front porch that these dogs will be there or whenever they walk down the street worry that their smaller dog is going to be attacked and killed. It's a very good protective measure. It's a beginning that's much needed."

Supervisors will decide on Monday if a vicious dog law is needed. The proposed ordinance would also give the animal control officer the authority to shoot a dangerous dog if the animal cannot be peacefully captured.

Stone County SPCA officials said they would like to see the officers undergo special training before attempting to capture such dogs.

"You've got to be trained. You've got to know how to handle them. You've got to have the proper equipment," Stonnington said. "So I would hope they designate and take the time, resources to have that person trained to deal with vicious dogs because you don't want a person hurt that doesn't know what they're doing."

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