Recent animal attacks have residents near Whitmire Road in northwestern Forsyth concerned about the effectiveness of rules for dogs deemed dangerous.
The situation, however, has presented a challenge for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office animal control unit, which hasn’t been able to determine if any violations actually occurred.
Citing the ongoing investigation, Alan Seabolt with the sheriff’s office declined to comment on what happened at a meeting scheduled Wednesday between animal control and the owner.
According to Lt. David Waters with animal control, the owner has four Rottweilers. Just two of those, however, were classified as dangerous after a horse attack a few months ago. He did not have the owner’s name.
“Those dogs have a tendency to look a lot alike,” Waters said. “The problem is we’ve got neighbors in there saying they saw these two dogs, but there’s actually four.
“We’re trying to determine which two dogs are they, because we don’t know and neither does the complainant.”
The situation frustrates resident Kate O’Connor, who said the Whitmire Road area continues to be troubled by what she says are the same two Rottweilers that nearly killed a neighbor’s miniature horse.
“They pinned it in a corner and just ripped it to shreds,” she said, adding that the animal lived despite severe injuries.
She added that the dogs have twice been impounded for the state minimum 10 days after which the owner has retrieved them.
According to O’Connor, the dogs continue to get loose and are believed to responsible for the death of a neighbor’s cat this past weekend. Such incidents persist despite the efforts of animal control.
“In the meantime, the dogs are out causing havoc again,” O’Connor said. “[Animal control] is doing what they can, but they can’t stop the dogs.”
In Forsyth County, 14 dogs have been classified as dangerous and 113 are potentially dangerous, a classification for those that have bitten a human or animal without provocation but not caused serious harm.
According to Waters, a dog is labeled “dangerous” after a classification board reviews an incident in which the dog has attacked another animal or a human.
To keep the animal, the owner must follow the requirements in the county ordinance for dangerous dogs, he said.
“When an animal is classified as dangerous, they must be in a caged area with concrete floor and a roof,” Waters said. “That enclosed area must be in a second enclosed area.
“If they’re ever taken out of those confinement, they must be muzzled and be on a leash by the owner at all times.”
According to the ordinance, the owner must also have an insurance policy for $50,000 for the dog and notify animal control immediately if the dog gets loose.
The canine can be confiscated if an animal control officer determines the requirements have not been met.
The sheriff’s office and animal control officers will routinely conduct checks for compliance and patrol the area, Waters said.
Owners of dogs determined to be dangerous also have the option to turn them over to the shelter rather than abide by the requirements.
To confirm complaints, an officer must have eyewitnesses and positive identification, Waters said.
Seabolt, with the sheriff’s office, said dog bite cases typically rise in the summer months because of outdoor activity, especially with children.
“If you think a dog’s aggressive, stay away from it,” he said, adding that parents should keep a close watch on kids playing outdoors.