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Bennington killer dog escapes from owner, community concerned

(KXII)
Published: Oct. 2, 2019 at 11:06 PM CDT
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One of the dogs that mauled a man to death in Bennington this weekend got loose again Wednesday.

A group of Bennington parents came together at the school Wednesday to share their concerns about the safety of their children and their questions for law enforcement.

"We've got all those kids that walk up and down the street that come to the school to play on our playground. I really think the dogs ought to be put down. If they're that dangerous I mean who's gonna be next?" says Renae Maxwell.

On Saturday, a man was mauled to his ultimate death by three dogs belonging to Michael Wright. Police said those same dogs attacked a teenager a few days earlier.

Bennington Police Chief James Heil said he has been checking on the dogs daily since then to be sure they were kept in quarantine at Wright's house.

Wright says one dog took off Wednesday morning when he let it out to go to the bathroom. Police tracked it down about an hour later and returned it, along with a ticket for allowing an animal to run at large.

"I called the DA's office and asked them what could be done about these dogs because the police don't see fit to do anything with them after this third attack that's cost a person their life," said Angela Gardner, a resident of Bennington. "They said they had not been made aware of the situation that was going on and that they were gonna be right on it investigating as to what it going on and why a police report was not brought to them."

Chief Heil says the department was forced to leave the dogs with the owner instead of seizing them or leaving them at a local vet due to the cost of boarding, the need for someone certified to care for quarantined animals and the lack of space at nearby pounds.

Heil says it is illegal to shoot the dogs unless they are a direct threat to you, your family or your pets. Humanely euthanizing the dogs is an option the owner can't consider due to the cost per dog.

But concerned residents feel something more should be done to enforce the leash law and hold people accountable for their pets when they get loose.

"The school does keep the kids safe, but I don't like for my children to walk the streets after school. You know, I allow Mason to go to the store and back by himself 'cause he's 14, but today I had to drive him because of the dogs being out," said Amber Brese.

Parents say Bennington schools were notified that one of the violent dogs was loose earlier, and students were kept inside the building for recess. Parents still say it's not enough.

"I liked it that I was notified that my kids were safe at school while I'm at work. Something needs to be done," says Lisa Flatt, mother of Jace Cook.

Chief Heil says the issue has not been taken to the council yet.

If the city were to take care of the fees to have the dogs taken from the owner, a special meeting would have to take place to decide on that.

Residents with concerns or questions are encouraged to contact Bennington Police Chief James Heil at (580) 847-2311.

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