Judge declares three German shepherds that attacked woman ‘vicious’

By Ed Runyan



Judge Philip Vigorito of municipal court has ruled three German shepherds owned by David Hanson of Newton Township are vicious under Ohio law, requiring Hanson to keep them “securely confined” and to carry $100,000 of liability insurance on each dog.

The judge said, in a ruling Thursday, the evidence brought forth during the trial made it clear three dogs owned by Hanson are the ones that attacked an employee of Venture Plastics in January 2018, causing her significant injuries.

Hanson already had been complying with the requirements of the “vicious dog” law since shortly after the dogs were accused of the attack. Venture Plastics is next door to Hanson’s property on Warren-Ravenna Road.

The Trumbull County Dog Warden declared the dogs vicious after the attack. Hanson appealed the decision to municipal court.

The January 2018 attack resulted in the employee having “severe wounds with excessive bleeding,” “damage to the right ankle and Achilles tendon,” the ruling says. She had to have “six to seven rabies shots around each of approximately 10 wounds, among other injuries and treatment.”

The ruling says Hanson must keep the dogs in a “locked pen that has a top, a locked, fenced yard or other locked enclosure that has a top; that when off premises, each dog shall be on a chain-link leash or tether not longer than 6 feet in length.”

It says Hanson must obtain “a dangerous or vicious-dog registration certificate, notify the local dog warden if the dog gets loose or is unconfined, if the dog bites anyone unless it is on its own property and the other person bit is a trespasser or committing a criminal act on the property.”

The decision came after a three-day trial two weeks ago that included 17 witnesses. Judge Vigorito heard the case without a jury.

In the ruling, the judge said the victim and another Venture Plastics employee who witnessed the attack “recognized the dogs as belonging to David Hanson” and that the dogs “were on and around the [Venture Plastics] property frequently.”

Hanson’s attorney, Harry Depietro, argued there was insufficient evidence it was Hanson’s dogs that attacked the victim. Depietro told The Vindicator on Monday he and Hanson are “leaning toward” appealing the ruling.

The judge noted there was evidence submitted in the case that in April 2019 two of Hanson’s dogs attacked and killed a cat on the porch of a mobile home in Braceville. The incident was captured on security video, the judge said.

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