SJCA requested that DNW provide further information on the dog attack issue in the community. I contacted Animal Control and they forwarded me their official stance on dog attacks within Howard County. Please see the attached bite letter titled “Information for Citizens Regarding Animal Bite Investigations.” This single page letter documents how and why investigations are done by Animal Control.
Also, Ms. Neser, a supervisor at Animal Control and who recently completed an investigation of a reported dog attack in our community, provided the following information:
1. There are NO breed bans in Howard County. It is something we strongly resist whenever it comes up. From our experience, we have found there are “good dogs and bad dogs” in all breeds. Each case and animal is evaluated on its own merits.
2. Civil citations with monetary fines are issued for violations of the Howard County Code.
3. Citizens may file an affidavit for violations they observe; contact Animal Control for an affidavit. They are numbered and issued to a specific person and cannot be copied or shared. As a result of an affidavit, citations will be issued for documented violations.
4. All citations may be appealed to the Animal Matters Hearing Board. The next hearing is Tuesday May 20, 2014 at 7:30 pm at Animal Control 8576 Davis Road Columbia, MD 21045. The public is welcome to attend.
5. The Administrator reviews all dog bite investigations and determines if it meets the criteria for a declaration of Potentially Dangerous or Dangerous as defined in the Code. If so, the Administrator enforces restrictions on the confinement of the dog(s) involved. The restrictions are given a reasonable time frame to complete and all changes/corrections are verified.
6. The Howard County Code is available for all to read on line. It is under Title 17: Public Protection Services Subtitle 3: Animals. (It is only 26 pages).
7. There have only been a few scattered dog bite incidents reported in your community. Generally, your community is fairly quiet with animal related calls. The amount of dog bites that have been reported is very low as compared to other communities in the County.
Please take special note to paragraph 7. Our community does not have a systemic issue with dog attacks. Three of the recent attacks occurred because the dogs got loose through a door a visitor to the home left open by accident; and these attacks were settled amicably between the dog owners. To the knowledge of Animal Control and myself no human has been wounded by a dog in our community in the last year. There currently are no open investigations with Animal Control. All reported incidents have been concluded. I hope that this calms the fears of people and shows that our community is safe to walk; that our dog owners are responsible, good neighbors; and that Animal Control is doing their job properly and within the Howard County Codes.
Investigations only occur if the skin of another animal or person is punctured. If it is only a matter of barking, sniffing or growling, then no investigation is opened. An Animal Control Officer may come out if a report is filed, but no further action may be taken if there is no wound. Please note that Animal Control is not able to discuss any investigation with anyone who was not directly involved in a reported incident; nor can they take an affidavit or report from anyone who did not actually witness the event.
I kindly ask that people who are involved in a dog attack and choose to privately settle the incident along with people who do not actually witness a dog attack restrain from posting the attack on public forums. If you are involved and settle the incident privately, then it should be a private matter not a community dust up. If you did not actually witness the attack, then you are spreading hearsay and invading the privacy of the people involved.
I hope that this documentation answers your dog attack questions or at least gives you resources to check that may better answer your questions.
The phone number for Animal Control is 410-313-2780. Remember, if you are under attack by an animal call 911. The police will respond as soon as possible and the process of Animal Control investigating the attack will begin.