The grandparents of a boy bitten by a dog came before the Stone County Board of Supervisors at its Monday meeting to ask that something be done about the dog.
Roy and Jean Meadows said their grandson son was playing with a neighbor child , riding bicycles, when the other child let the dog out of an enclosed yard and it attacked their grandson.
“We called the Sheriff’s department and they came out and said it was a vicious dog, but then, they didn’t do anything,” Roy Meadows told the board. “It wasn’t done right, they didn’t pick him up or anything.”
He said his grandson was bitten seven times and required an emergency-room visit to receive stitches.
The county does have a vicious dog ordinance, drafted several years ago in response to a dog which attacked other dogs in McHenry.
District 4 Supervisor and Board President Scott Strickland said it was his understanding the county prosecuting attorney would not prosecute under the ordinance, tying the hands of the Sheriff’s department.
“I was told by law enforcement that the county prosecuting attorney throws [these cases] out and says the law won’t hold water,” he said.
Board attorney Scott Gibson then said, “Under that [ordinance], that is a vicious dog and it should have been picked up.”
Tom Matthews, the prosecuting attorney, said the ordinance was unenforceable, as written.
“The way the ordinance is drafted, it won’t sustain a conviction,” he said. “It is a civil violation, not a criminal violation.”
He said the ordinance needs to be rewritten and funding has to be put into place for enforcement.
“If the Board of Supervisors wants to fund the ordinance, they need to rewrite it and put money behind it so it’s enforceable,” he said. “Barring that, we have long-established statutes on the books which allow citizens of this state to defend their lives, their families and their pets.”
Invoking that right, however, leads to its own set of problems because of the interactions between neighbors.
“It creates great tension in our communities among neighbors because of a refusal to fund an ordinance that’s enforceable,” Matthews said. “Under Mississippi law, a dog gets one free bite. If it is then declared a vicious dog, the second bite is the responsibility of the dog owner and a well-written ordinance would allow law enforcement and prosecutors to hold that dog owner responsible.”
While the argument goes on, the Meadows just want peace to return to their Bond neighborhood.
“My grandson won’t go out to play anymore,” Roy Meadows said. “If we’re going somewhere, he wants to know if they have a dog.
“My one neighbor has taken to carrying his pistol because the dog has threatened him and another neighbor used to run with her dog for exercise but doesn’t do it anymore because she’s afraid of this dog. Something needs to be done.”