Kyle Troutman: After dogs attack, it’s time to attack loose dogs problem

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Albert Einstein is credited with saying the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.

In the case of the city of Cassville and animal control — specifically loose dogs in town — the insanity reached a peak last week when Kristie Preddy, a counselor at Eunice Thomas Elementary School, was mauled by two dogs during her morning walk.

Troutman

Preddy, who suffered 25 bites and two broken arms, has a long road of recovery ahead, and if it wants to put a halt to the insanity, the Cassville City Council has just as long of a road to travel.

Issues with loose dogs have been ongoing in the city for as long as the long-time residents can remember, becoming more and more prevalent in recent years. Much has been discussed about the breeds of the dogs, and one is believed to have been part pit bull, however, anyone who has been around dogs knows that any dog can bite. Unfortunately, these dogs attacked unprovoked, which is much less common than bites from provoked dogs.

One need not look any further than the Cassville Democrat’s facebook page and the comments on the initial story about Preddy to see how many people are affected by the number of loose dogs in Cassville.

Lee Stubblefield said before retiring and moving to Rogers, Ark., he would run the Greenway Trail and multiple street routes in the city and too often had to cut a run short or abandon a regular route due to unsafe animals at large.

Lisa Dubson said she lived by the school almost her entire life and has always had issues with horrible pet owners that give no care.

Jordan Starkweather said when he lived in Cassville, he had to stop walking his dog due to lack of enforcement and loose dogs everywhere.

Amy Driskill said she was bit by a dog, and a Rottweiler lunged at her son when they were at the city park.

Mark Barton said he walked his dog on a leash at the City Park for years before deciding being attacked at least five times over a six-year period was too much. His wife also stopped jogging in the park due to loose dogs approaching her.

I have personally been chased by dogs along Main Street riding my bike last year, which has kept me from feeling comfortable continuing to do so. Furthermore, my reporter was put in a precarious situation while taking pictures of the flooding in June. A dog approached her near 13th and Harold streets, growling aggressively and following her at her heels for a block before turning away.

These are only a handful of examples from people lucky enough not to have suffered the type of attack Preddy has.

Many residents have petitioned the city over the years to enact a leash law, most recently in 2016, when a sitting councilwoman’s dog attacked and killed a neighbor’s dog.

At that time, the Council denied the request, largely due to the cost of building a dog pound and hiring an animal control officer. The city of Monett, that same year, was in the beginning stages of building its now-open $150,000 pound, with about $130,000 to $140,000 of that cost being funded by donations. Its animal control officer at that time earned a salary of $30,480, plus $12,386 in benefits, and the city’s animal control division had a budget of $17,500 per year, but the city typically only spent about $8,000 per year.

If the city of Cassville initiated a similar process, it would be looking at about a $200,000 initial investment, then about $50,000 per year in maintenance and staffing.

As I said on this page in 2016, that is certainly not chump change. However, this attack happened so close to the school campus and the daycare across from the elementary school that there is one big question that must be posed — is possibly saving the life of one of those children worth the money?

I think it is.

Preddy was lucky to walk away with her life. Had those two dogs attacked a child, would that child have been so lucky?

Preddy and 10 others petitioned the Council on Monday for this exact solution. This time, officials seemed more open to considering a solution, even if it meant placing a sales tax proposal on the ballot for funding it.

Another solution may present itself through the Haven of the Ozarks Animal Sanctuary. However, as a no kill shelter, the Haven focuses on adopting dogs out, not handling or euthanizing vicious dogs.

Sometimes, tragedy provides opportunity, and this is certainly one for the Council to consider.

Should the city continue doing the same thing over and over again — nothing — or use this event as a spark for action?

These dogs have been euthanized and are no longer a threat, however, if the latter of the Council’s options is chosen, it is only a matter of time before an attack like this, possibly resulting in a worse outcome, will inevitably happen again.

Kyle Troutman is the editor of the Cassville Democrat. He may be reached at 417-847-2610 or at editor@cassville-democrat.com