Pit bull attack on 5-year-old highlights Butler County’s efforts to track dangerous dogs

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Jim Otte Reports On The Dangerous Bog Bill

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The latest incident involving a dog attack that will lead to euthanasia for the animal highlights the steps Ohio takes to monitor dangerous dog and prevent future injuries, officials said.

A 5-year-old girl suffered a fractured jaw and several open wounds on her face and head after a pit bull attacked her on Millikin Street in Hamilton on April 6. The dog was first given the dangerous designation in September when he bit another child.

There are 87 dogs designated as dangerous living in Butler County.

“This little girl was minding her own business when this dog broke the leash and attacked her,” Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said. “I am glad that she is expected to be fine but fear this will have a lasting impression on her. We don’t know what prompted the attack, but this dog obviously should not be around people.”

RELATED: Pit bull attacks child for second time in Butler County, owner charged

Deputy Dog Warden Jamie Hearlihy said after the attack last weekend the pit bull was deemed vicious, and its owner Justin Iceman has it scheduled to be euthanized. He has been charged with failing to confine a dangerous dog and failure to notify the dog warden of the attack. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Hamilton Municipal Court April 23.

Hearlihy said a victim has to ask for a dangerous dog designation or press charges, and only a judge can order a dog be euthanized. She said “nine times out of 10” a judge won’t order the dog be killed on a first offense but will designate it is dangerous so the dog warden can monitor it.

“A dangerous dog designation is where our office follows up with this dog for the rest of its life,” she said. “We make sure that the dog owner has it up-to-date on rabies, beware of dog signs are posted, the dog never leaves the owner’s property, things like that… I follow up with my dangerous dog owners at least once a month.”

There are three designation for dogs:

• Nuisance: Means the warden has captured a dog running loose at least three times and the owner is found guilty each time

• Dangerous: The dog has bitten someone

• Vicious: The dog has caused serious bodily harm or killed someone

The Butler County Auditor handles dog licenses and keeps track of dangerous dogs. There are 87 dogs on the dangerous list and 35 of them are pit bulls or pit bull mix. Hamilton has the most at 39, followed by Middletown with 28. There are three pet owners who each have two dogs that have been deemed dangerous.

Hearlihy said once a dog bites someone and a judge orders euthanasia or an owner willingly decides to have it put down, there is a 10-day quarantine period so the health department can determine if the dog has rabies and the victim needs shots.

The owner can surrender the animal to the Butler County Animal Humane Society or take it to a veterinarian to have it euthanized.

Data collected by the Ohio Department of Health show there were 64,735 dog bites reported between 2013 and 2017 statewide.

The state legislature has tried and failed several times to toughen laws governing vicious dogs. There is a bill in the works now introduced by Miamisburg Republican State Rep. Niraj Antani. He named his bill after 8-year-old Savannah Coleman, a Miami Twp. girl who was mauled by a 60-pound pit bull last summer. The bill been referred to the Criminal Justice Committee.

“The argument that I want to present to the legislature and the public is that this is not a one-off, isolated incident. This happens often all across Ohio to adults and children, with varying degrees of injury or death,” Antani said when he announced the bill in January.

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