Vicious Dogs Targeted by City Leader

11-18-05 - One week ago, a Sherman postal worker was attacked by a pit bull and a boxer on his mail route. The two dogs jumped through a screened window and bit David Whitfield, 39, on the arms and hands.

Now one city councilman wants tougher laws to muzzle vicious dogs and their owners.

The pit bull and the boxer who attacked the postal worker are still at the Sherman Animal Shelter and will be put to sleep on Monday. The family who owns these dogs say they never saw it coming.

Now the city of Sherman is considering tightening up on pet ordinances.

"These dogs were fast and powerful and the time moved by very quickly from the time I started backing away until the time they first hit me," Whitfield said.

The thought of it happening was always in the back of his mind, and after 20 years of delivering mail in Sherman, Whitfield still considers himself lucky.

His doctor says it may be months before feeling returns to his left arm and hand, but he's hoping to return to work after Thanksgiving.

City Councilman Steve Jonse has been gathering the statistics. One year ago he proposed the city take a look at tightening pet ordinances starting with lowering the number of cats and dogs that are allowed per home from it's current cap of 12. That idea didn't go over well, so now he's trying again.

"If you have strict code enforcement in place for vicious dogs and how you maintain your dogs properly then I think we'll be ok," Jonse said.

He not only want to lower the number of pets per household, but also raise fines for those who violate the rules. But His biggest proposal is to require certain dog owners to carry special insurance.

"If you own a vicious dog you have to carry a specific liability possibly of $100,000 to have that dog on your premises," Jonse said.

As for what constitutes a vicious dog, Jonse refers to the Center for Disease Control which lists ten breeds from pit bulls to German shepherds and rottweilers as having a tendency not just to bite but to kill when they attack.

But it wouldn't be foolproof. After all, the boxer who attacked Whitfield last week isn't on the list, and even Whitfield says tightening ordinances probably wouldn't have prevented the attack.

"There's a city ordinance in place for restraining, but it just really needs to be enforced," Whitfield said.

Jonse has also been comparing pet ordinances in other cities comparable to Sherman's size and most of them average about five per household. He feels with fewer pets that owners may be more responsible for the ones they have.

The City Council will discuss the proposed ordinance at Monday's City Council meeting.