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WARREN City seeks to curb vicious animals



Published: Tue, May 15, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The city handles 125-155 calls each year for dog bites.

By AMANDA C. DAVIS

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- Tony Angelo is always leery of what's lurking around the corner.

As a city sanitarian, Angelo said, he's always on guard when inspecting a home because of the potential for vicious dogs.

City council and officials were expected today to discuss tightening up laws regarding such animals.

One incident: A few months back, Angelo was preparing to inspect a residence in the Packard Building on North Park Avenue when he asked the owner if she had dogs.

She said no, so Angelo proceeded toward the bathroom.

"I opened the door and surprise, surprise, she had a pit bull in there," he said.

Angelo was treated for a bite on the knee and said he was lucky because he kicked at the dog as it lunged for him, and the owner stepped in to subdue it.

It was the first time he was attacked by a dog in the 20 years he's been on the job, but he said he's always apprehensive when entering people's homes.

Councilman Alford Novak, D-2nd, said a water meter reader for the city was attacked by a Rottweiler a few weeks ago on Brighton Street. The man did not suffer severe injuries, he said.

Another man was handing out advertisements in the same neighborhood, around the same time, and was attacked by the same dog, which was fended off by a neighbor, the councilman noted. The man suffered minor injuries.

Checking elsewhere: Robert Pinti, the city's deputy health commissioner, said he's studying legislation from other municipalities to see how best the city should proceed.

Right now, the city defines a vicious dog as one "that has a known propensity to attack or has been trained to fight."

It does not list specific breeds, but Pinti said it should include pit bulls, American bulldogs and possibly Rottweilers.

Harboring a vicious dog is a minor misdemeanor, but the city law department is looking to see if it can change the penalty, Pinti said.

The deputy health commissioner also will propose that owners of such dogs obtain a license so the dog can be tagged and ownership would be easy to determine.

License fees would help pay for equipment used by the city's animal warden, who recently returned to work after being laid off more than a year.

Insurance requirement: Owners now are required to carry a $15,000 liability policy, but Pinti said he'll suggest that amount be increased to $100,000, as approved by the state.

The city also may decide to require that dogs be muzzled when they are walked, Pinti said, and the operation of illegal kennels also will be addressed.

Angelo said the city receives 125-155 calls for dog bites each year.

Warren Postmaster Tom Kerns said carriers in the area typically report four or five dog bites a year.

Postal procedure: When a carrier has an incident with a dog, the owner is notified by certified mail.

The second time, the owner is told to address the problem or mail service will be suspended.

The third time, service is suspended and the owner must set up a post office box account or find alternative means to get mail.

"These people need to realize we don't want these kinds of dogs in the city of Warren," said Angelo's brother, Mayor Hank Angelo. "And we don't want to wait until they bite somebody."

davis@vindy.com




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