• Last modified 349 days ago (June 14, 2023)


Responses differ in rash of dog attacks

Staff writer

Dog might not bite the hand that feeds them, but loose hounds have made five attacks since May 27 in Marion and Hillsboro.

Police in the two cities have handled the cases differently. However, officers in both cities use discretion when responding to dog calls, their chiefs say.

On May 27, Hillsboro police issued a ticket to a dog’s owner after the dog killed chickens in another resident’s yard.

Two days later, police there cited dog owners for allowing a dog to run free in the 200 block of S. Adams St. and after another dog bit a person at Hillsboro’s sports complex. The person did not require medical assistance.

Marion police were called June 3 to St. Luke Hospital about a dog bite but didn’t issue a ticket. On June 5, they responded to a dog bite in the 400 block of N. Freeborn St. That person didn’t request medical assistance.

They responded again Monday to St. Luke about another dog bite.

Marion police chief Gideon Cody said one of the bites involved a man who reached over a fence.

On duty since May 30, Cody said he hadn’t yet taken a deep dive into dog problems in the city.

Both Marion and Hillsboro have ordinances that require dogs to be a on a leash. So does Peabody. That city also has struggled with loose dogs, including some that have bitten people.

‘The expectation is that they’re going to enforce them,” Cody said of city ordinances. “That’s my personal opinion.”

However, he said, officers can use discretion regarding such calls. Some victims, he said, choose not to pursue charges.

Hillsboro police start out with a warning for loose dog cases not involving a bite, chief Jessey Hiebert said.

“Generally speaking, when an individual gets a summons to city court, they have already been warned,” he said. “It would be a repeat offender or if their dog has bitten somebody. If they bite someone, they will be coming to court.”

Hiebert said in a recent case, a man was letting his dog run at Hillsboro Municipal Airport.

“It’s a well-trained dog, but for some reason, it ran up to someone playing Frisbee golf near the airport,” Hiebert said. “The dog nipped at his leg. Those two guys worked it out. But work it out or not, we’re going to enforce that.”

On non-bite cases, “we try to warn people because we know dogs can get out,” Hiebert said.

If it happens again, the owner won’t get a warning, Hiebert said.

Owners sometimes will call police when their dogs are out, Hiebert added. In those cases, police generally won’t issue a ticket because the owners are being cooperative.

“If we can get cooperation with the owner or it’s a first-time offense or they call us, we’re pretty lenient on that because they’re doing what they can,” Hiebert said. “They’re not being irresponsible.”

Dog owners need to remember that their pets may treat other people differently.

“Everyone who has a dog thinks it’s the nicest dog in the world. It would never hurt anybody. It would never bite,” Hiebert said. “That might be accurate statement from their point of view. But that might not be what someone else’s see.”

Last modified June 14, 2023