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Rural neighbors rally against pit bull attacks PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by MARK JAEGER   
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 18:50

Town Board asked to help residents terrorized by menacing, loose dogs

A Blueberry Road resident appealed to Town of Saukville officials to help control a pair of pit bulls that have terrorized the rural neighborhood.

Karen Kowalchuk said the dogs routinely chase deer, turkeys and other dogs, and reportedly have mauled several sheep.

“I have seen plenty of coyotes, a black bear and even a cougar in the area, but these dogs are the only ones that ever chased me up a tree on my own property,” Kowalchuk said.

“If there hadn’t been a tree stand nearby, I don’t know what they would have done to me. They are bred to kill and have had the taste of blood.”

Kowalchuk and more than a dozen of her neighbors brought their concerns to Tuesday’s Town Board meeting.

They detailed times when they were chased by the barking, snarling dogs. Some said they are afraid to get out of their cars or homes when the dogs are on their property.

Kowalchuk said the dogs belong to Thomas Johnson of Hawthorne Road, who she said allows the animals to roam his 120-acre property and beyond.

“I filed a complaint with the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Department, and they said there is nothing they can do until there are two documented cases of the dogs attacking people,” she said.

At the request of Sheriff Maury Straub, Sgt. John Passet also attended the board meeting, reading a half-dozen incident reports that have been filed with the department that involved Johnson’s dogs. In one case, Johnson was issued a citation for allowing dogs at large. He had previously been issued a warning for the same violation, Passet said.

Many in the audience said they have had additional run-ins with the dogs, but never bothered to report them to the sheriff’s department.

Passet also read passages from state statutes detailing what steps must be taken for authorities to legally shoot a dangerous dog.

Similarly, he said, residents are within their legal rights if they shoot a nuisance dog if it is on their property and poses an immediate threat.

Kowalchuk said she now walks her property with a gun, but doesn’t relish the prospect of shooting even the menacing dogs.

“I don’t want to shoot anything, but I am afraid to walk my own land. You never know when the dogs might show up — morning, afternoon or evening. We are living in fear out here,” she said.

Kowalchuk has two German shepherds, and she is fearful that her pets might fall victim to an attack by the pit bulls.

“The last thing I need is to get in the middle of a dogfight,” she said.

Asking for the town to intervene, Kowalchuk said the issue is a matter of public safety.

“I don’t want anyone to get hurt,” she said.

Passet said his department could take action if there are at least two document cases of the dogs biting people or other animals.

In response, the residents said they have seen the dogs repeatedly chasing and eventually attacking deer.

A number of sheep in the area were also reported mauled by dogs, they said, but Johnson denied the culprits were his dogs.

Blueberry Road resident Laura Logan said it is unacceptable to wait until the dogs harm people to take action.

“I don’t want my boys to be bitten before we can do anything,” Logan said.

Town Board members listened to the complaints for an hour, but questioned what role the municipality has in resolving the matter.

Town Chairman Barb Jobs suggested the neighbors pursue the issue in civil court, which failed to satisfy many in the audience.

“We all pay taxes but you are saying you want us to pay for a lawyer to take care of this. We are asking the town to do something on our behalf,” said Peter Kowalchuk.

“Do you want us to sue to have the dogs killed? Do you want us to be the town that kills dogs?” Supr. Kate Smallish asked.

Fellow board member Curt Rutkowski said they have to consider the alternative, as well.

“If we do nothing and someone gets hurt, aren’t we liable then, too,” Rutkowski asked.

The board agreed to ask the town attorney to consider what options they have to intervene on behalf of the residents.

A report was promised at the March 19 board meeting.



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