Pit Bull Owner Threatens Family with Death
Christian County, MO - Christian County, like much of Missouri, has few laws to protect rural residents from vicious dogs. Some municipalities have ordinances for the control of vicious animals, but outside city limits, state and county laws offer little protection -- at least until violence ensues.
A state legislator has proposed to change that situation, a move supported by local officials and one Nixa family whose pet was recently killed by a neighbor's pit bull mix. Kara McGhee believes this law would have helped prevent the fatal mauling of Max, her family's beloved 10-year-old black sheepdog, last month.
The new bill would make it a Class C Misemeanor for a first offense if the owner intentionally or negligently fails to adequately control his or her animal and it bites or causes physical injury or property damage. The key language here is "property damage," a category that includes livestock and pets.
Prior to the killing of Max, the McGhee family and other neighbors had a history of trouble with Hoss, a pit bull mix belonging to the Davis family next door. Once, the dog "practically tore the bumper off a car" trying to get to a cat that ran under the car for safety, McGhee said.
On March 7, as Hoss and other dogs were chasing livestock, a neighbor used a pellet gun to scare them off. Max jumped off his porch and ran to see what was going on. Hoss, who may have been "stimulated" at the time, attacked him. It took gunfire before Hoss backed off, allowing the McGhee family to try to save their mauled sheepdog.
Reporting the problems the McGhees and their neighbors allege against Hoss likely would not have offered them any protection. County officials said there was nothing they could do unless the dog bit a person.
Charges have been filed in the case against 17-year-old Matthew Davis, but not for the dog attack. It was Davis' alleged threats against the family that led to Class C misdemeanor charges of third-degree assault. Prosecutor Ron Cleek said Davis is accused of telling McGhee's husband, Damon, in the presence of witnesses that he would:
"put a f----- bullet in your head if my dog came up missing ..." Davis admitted making those and other threatening remarks.
The remarks came after Damon McGhee went to the Davis home and told the family about the death of Max and that Hoss should be euthanized. Commissioner Bill Barnett, a neighbor of both the McGhees and Davises, intervened in the dispute. David Harper, the boyfriend of Matthew Davis' mother, got stuck with the bill. He took Max to the vet and paid up.
In other news
Livestock Owners Defend Law to Shoot Dogs on Their Property
Idaho Falls, ID - In a separate, but related story, one has to wonder why more farmers don't shoot dogs that interfere with their livestock. Granted, in some instances, the dog attacks occur when the farmer is not present. In many states it is legal to kill dogs that disturb livestock.
In Idaho Falls, a family is heart broken after their neighbor and cattle owner legally shot their dog to death for coming on his property. The law says if a dog comes onto a livestock owner's property, then the owner can kill it. On Saturday, livestock owners wanted to stand up for the law since they say people need to understand how the law actually protects more animals than it hurts.
While it may sound cruel to shoot a dog to death for trespassing, livestock owners say it's much more cruel to lose several of their animals to packs of dogs looking for a good time.
Sherry Glick owns three sheep now, but, a few months ago, that number was higher. "The dogs come in just as soon as we get them up and going and take out half of them," says Glick about losing 9 sheep over the last two years. Livestock owners don't want to kill a dog for coming on their property, but a rancher soon learns that shooting the dog can be the easier option.
Evan Smith, a Bonneville County Animal Control Officer, says it's the duty of dog owners to keep their dog off other people's property. Once they leave their property, it is a dog at large, warns Smith. Smith particularly warns dog owners about this time of year. Its spring fever and dogs like to get out and run around with other dogs. This might mean an unfortunate ending for the dog.