On May 1, DeSoto Police Chief, John Sparling responded to a “vicious dog complaint” after a dog at-large injured a neighbor’s chickens. John Dudson, the dog’s owner was issued a citation for dog at-large and was told they would have to get rid of the dog.
Dudson and his family were at the DeSoto City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 15 to appeal the decision. After explaining the lengths his family was willing to go to correct the problem in the future, the council granted their appeal and the Dudsons will be allowed to keep their dog.
DuWayne Dalen, the attorney for the City of DeSoto, said that Sparling followed the city code regarding vicious animals appropriately at the time. The incident resulted in one chicken suffering injuries and one chicken dying.
“I thought he did a really good job applying what the code says for what happened,” Dalen said before the appeal hearing.
Sparling said that he received a call for the injured chicken on May 1 and found the both the dog and the chickens were in violation of the city code.
The city code states that it is unlawful for a person to keep livestock within the City except by written consent of the Council or except in compliance with the City’s zoning regulations. Additionally, it is illegal to let any animal run at large within the corporate limits of the City.
Dudson explained that their dog, Vincent, is a 2-year old, mixed breed of German Shepherd and retriever. He said that he is a playful, and energetic dog.
Dudson saw the incident with the chicken and described what he saw.
“He was running the chicken toward the house,” Dudson said. “He was running with the chicken, not at full speed. The chicken kept going straight, he tried to veer to try and guide the chicken around the house, they collided.”
He said he did not witness what happened with the second chicken, but his daughter did. She did not speak at the meeting about what she saw with the second chicken.
Dudson said that the dog is licensed with the city, is up to date with his shots and is well-cared for at his home. He said that Vincent is not normally an outside dog and that they take precautionary measures to make sure he doesn’t get loose when they take him outside.
“This time, the situation happened that due to being in a rush… those fail safes that we had in place fell through,” Dudson said.
“We don’t deny that our dog escaped, that we are responsible for our dog being at-large at that time.”
He said that he was questioning whether or not the dog colliding with the chicken constitutes an attack.
The City Code describes a vicious animal as one that has bitten more than one person, or the same person more than once in its life, or has attacked any domestic animal or fowl without provocation, causing injury or death while off the property of the owner, even just once. The City Code currently prohibits the keeping of vicious animals within the city limits.
Dudson explained that Vincent is not the most well-trained dog, but they are planning to put new measures in place to help train him including putting him through PetSmart’s training program, using an invisible fence on their property and finding better ways to compartmentalize their house.
“Even though I don’t like shock collars on animals, if this is what it takes to keep him safe, to keep the chickens safe, this is what we will do to try and teach him that that’s as far as he can go,” Dudson said.
Dudson also mentioned to the council during the public appeal hearing that the dog has been an avenue of emotional support for his daughter and was worried about how it would affect her if they were forced to give Vincent up.
City Council Member, Karen Wilson said that she would like to look at the ordinance regarding vicious animals to see if they can make changes so animal owners aren’t forced to give up their animals after just one incident.
Although the owners of the chicken were not in attendance at the hearing, Dudson said that he spoke with them, paid restitution for the chicken and said the chicken’s owners were not looking for them to have to get rid of the dog, but were concerned about the safety of their chickens.
Sparling said that he was on board with reversing the vicious animal decision and the motion to approve the Dudsons’ appeal and allow them to keep their dog as approved unanimously.