Washington Co. Leaders Consider Ordinance Changes Following Dog Attack

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WASHINGTON COUNTY (KFSM) -- Less than a week after a Fayetteville cyclist was mauled by a dog, the Washington County Quorum Court is considering making changes to the county's vicious animal laws.

"You shouldn't just be allowed to have your animal run around wherever it wants to go," Richard Holt said.

Holt was attacked by a dog Feb. 17 while out on a bicycle training ride near Hogeye. He posted photos of his mauled leg on Facebook and his post was shared thousands of times prompting a response from the Washington County Sheriff's Office. The owner of the dog eventually received several citations and her dogs were impounded at the county animal shelter for 10 days.

Monday (Feb. 22), Holt met with the quorum court to discuss how the county deals with vicious animals.

"It is the responsibility of the dog owner to have control of their dog," Holt said.

Holt said the response from all the Justices of the Peace was positive and all of them supported making changes to county ordinances, which currently allow dogs to roam freely in unincorporated areas of the county.

District 15 Justice of the Peace Butch Pond, whose district includes rural portions of the county, said he supports making the ordinances stricter.

"If that animal is kept inside some kind of kennel, or some kind of pen, they can't escape," he said.

The quorum court is considering changes that would include allowing the public to report potentially vicious animals before they attack and stricter confinement laws, but not everyone agrees there's a need to make changes.

"I think chains make vicious dogs," Kenneth Sartwell said Tuesday (Feb. 23).

Sartwell lives in rural Washington County and allows his dogs to roam his property.

"They are trained," he said. "They know that is their property."

Sartwell said he's concerned about owners who don't watch over their animals.

"If we are not here looking at the dogs, the dogs are confined," he said.

Pond said the county needs to make changes sooner rather than later to prevent another attack in the future.

"I personally do not believe that a dog who does this kind of damage deserves the chance to be able to do it again," he said.

The sheriff's office and the quorum court will work with the Bicycle Coalition of the Ozarks to explore what changes need to be made to the ordinances.

Paxton Roberts with the BCO said he hopes a similar conversation begins in Benton County.

"It is not unique to Washington County, Benton County or even Arkansas," he said. "I think it is time we start looking at the ordinances and putting better ordinances in place. They do not just protect the cyclists. They protect the dogs from getting killed or hurt and they protect the dog owner from potentially losing their dogs if they violate the ordinance."

Roberts also said he wants people to understand that confining animals in rural areas could include leashes, fencing or simply training the animal to not leave their property.

The owner of the dog that bit Holt spoke with 5NEWS following the attack and said her dog has never acted viciously toward anyone.

2 comments

  • Mitchell Phillips

    This blanket style law may not be best suited for all dogs outside the city limits. I’m sure most people, dog owners included can agree the temperament of an animal is largely influenced by the owner and how it was raised. If someone raises an animal with violent tendencies, it should be their responsibility to fence their property or at least a portion to accommodate their animals or have it put down.

    Today, two unfamiliar dogs were in my yard with my dogs. I hadn’t seen them before since I’m familiar with all the neighboring animals so I called the number of the tag. The man who owned them lived 10 minutes up the road and for whatever reason his dogs were roaming a little farther that normal from home. I let them inside, dried them off, and waited for the owner to come pick them up. I wouldn’t mind if these dogs showed up in the yard again because they were friendly.

    To conclude, we should have laws in place to protect people, pets, and children from dangerous animals. Not a law to keep every animal locked up 24-7.

  • Tom Smith

    Why are you biking in rural areas anyways? This is not the city. Rural areas is no park, there are no sidewalks, wildlife running everywhere, neighbors don’t live next to each other like the city and only one major road. Rules are different there. If you dont like dogs running around then don’t go there. Common sense people. So every time you don’t like something, I guess you can go and complain. This is what America is coming too. Thats life people, if your looking for a handout then i guess move to outer space cause there is no place on earth like that.

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