Judge sends stern message to unleashed dogs' owner
The vicious attack by two dogs last year that left a San Francisco woman dead is once again in the news as jury selection began Thursday in the murder case against the dogs' owners. A similar tragedy in Poland may well have been averted because Judge James R. Lanzo of Struthers Municipal Court sent to jail a woman whose dogs attacked a teen-age girl jogging in the Poland Woods. Carol Coleman had been previously cited for letting her dogs run loose. Now, they'll be locked up -- and so will she.
Ohio law considers a dog that has bitten a human being to be a vicious dog, and it must be controlled at all times. And after one of Coleman's dogs bit another jogger in the woods in 2000, she was put on probation, made to carry $100,000 in liability insurance and told to install a 6-foot kennel with a fenced top. She also agreed to keep her dogs -- she has six of them -- out of the woods.
Apparently, letting her dogs run free is more important to Coleman than public safety or obeying the law. As a result, she'll spend 14 days in jail, pay the court costs, a $250 fine and the medical bills of the high school student the dogs attacked.
A hearing in February will be conducted to make sure she is obeying the court's orders pertaining to her dogs.
Requirements: Mahoning County Dog Warden Carol Markovich says there are only two things a person who chooses to be a dog owner in Ohio is required to do: register the animal and keep it contained on the owner's property. Coleman does have current licenses for her dogs. She just can't -- or won't -- keep them leashed.
The Poland Village police have a number of infractions on file involving the dogs' chasing people or attacking other dogs while running around unleashed. So far, the injuries have been relatively minor, but the potential is there for something much more serious.
Judge Lanzo's sentence should be a warning, not only to Coleman who could risk the destruction of her animals if she does not comply, but to any others who puts their neighbors at risk by allowing their dogs to run wild.