UPDATE: Dog attacks Bradley senior, renews city, county animal control debate
A 72-year old Bradley County woman is recovering after a neighbor's pit bull attacked her Wednesday morning, sending her to the hospital. The dog has been seized; its owner arrested on a single felony count of allowing her dog to run at large.
Wednesday, June 10th 2015, 4:15 PM EDT by
Wednesday, June 10th 2015, 6:52 PM EDT
A 72-year old Bradley County woman is recovering after a neighbor's pit bull attacked her Wednesday morning, sending her to the hospital. The dog has been seized; its owner arrested on a single felony count of allowing her dog to run at large. But this latest biting incident has some in Bradley County revisiting a long-standing problem of animal control.
"He just kept biting and biting and I was screaming for help," recalls 72-year old Patty DeBusk, shortly after her discharge from Skyridge Medical Center for the numerous bites she suffered to both legs, from her neighbor's pit bull during her morning walk of the neighborhood.
"Eventually, the man came out of the back door of the house where the dog came from and called the dog," says DeBusk, who says she is the third person the dog has bitten recently.
The canine, described as a pit-bull, is in quarantine at the Bradley SPCA, as the dog's owner, 38-year old Tammy Lynn Morales, faces a class E felony for keeping a dog-at-large.
"We're averaging anywhere between seven and eleven calls a day at the Bradley County Sheriff's Office," says Sheriff Eric Watson, who believes his deputies are spending too much time on pet related calls that would be better, and more cost effectively served, by Animal Control officers. The Animal Control Service was shelved years ago over funding arguments between the city of Cleveland and Bradley County.
"This is just one of many political footballs, its tit for tat," shrugs Bradley County Commissioner and Vice-Chairman Jeff Yarber, who says as bad as the current situation is right now, it could be far worse.
"The city has no statuatory obligation to offer animal control and I'm afraid the city is going to cut its animal control completely and then everything is going to be dumped in our lap."
Yarber says there are talks underway to mend political fences and find a mutual solution to the longstanding canine problem.
Sheriff Watson says last week he was charged by the County Commission to come up with a animal control plan to be operated by the Sheriff's Office, but Watson says his proposal won't come cheap.
"I'm also going to take the County Commission on a trip to Sullivan County which has a premiere dog service, animal control service provided by the sheriff's office, however we have to do this service right, we can't half way do it," says Watson.
Nearly everyone agrees Bradley County's dog problems are mostly due to ownership. In fact, Ms. Morales has had 9 deputy calls to her home since March due to dog complaints. Three of which have been alleged biting incidents involving the same dog, which will likely be euthanized.
Sheriff Watson says he may have his animal control proposal as early as next week.
The Bradley County Sheriff's Office is investigating a dog bite incident. It happened Wednesday on Maryland Circle near Dockery Lane. A 73-year-old woman was bitten multiple times on both legs. The victim was treated at the scene, then taken to the hospital. The dog's owner, Tammy Lynette Morales, 38, has been charged with Felony Dog-at-Large.
Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson states the department has received a lot of dogs-at-large calls lately. Deputies will now start issuing warnings to dog owners on a first offense. A second time, the owner of the animal will receive a written citation and be charged with a Class C (Dog-At-Large) misdemeanor. If a dog bites or attacks someone and causes bodily injury, the owner will be arrested and charged with a Class E (Dog-At-Large) felony.
At the request of the Bradley County Commission, Watson is working on a proposal to deal with strays as well as enforcing the existing laws concerning animals.