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Man warns against loose dogs

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Fred

Pictured is a dachshund that had been owned by Robert Bernt. Bernt's mother, who lives in David City, had been walking the dog in town when they were attacked by a loose dog, Bernt said. The dog died from an infection a week later.

One man is hoping that the story of his mom and dog being attacked by a loose dog in David City will help bring awareness to the issue.

Robert Bernt is an Aurora resident who works in nearby Seward. His 75-year-old mother, who resides in David City, would watch and walk his dachshund, Fred, while he was at work.

On April 15, Bernt said, his mother and Fred were on one of their daily walks in town when two loose dogs approached them. One of the dogs attacked them, Bernt said.

“She reached down to pick Fred up, because he's only 10 pounds, and she got bit in the face and the hand, and Fred got bit in the chest,” Bernt said.

“She can't see very well. She has issues from the past. She went home and all she could think about was taking care of Fred. When I talked to her the next day, she told me what happened I told her, 'You need to call the police and get a report made.'”

Bernt said the report was made the day after the attack. Fred was taken to a veterinary clinic the following Tuesday – April 19 – where the vet said that Fred’s vitals were good. By the morning of April 22, Fred had passed away.

According to Bernt, an autopsy indicated that Fred had died of an infection from the bite. Fred had just turned 3-years-old, Bernt added, and had always ridden in Bernt’s truck.

“My mom is very frightened still. I started taking Fred over there to help her get out of the house to help her, bring her some happiness,” he said.

“She was very happy. And then all of a sudden, that happiness was just (taken) away just like that.”

During the David City Council’s March 23 regular meeting, city officials had talked about the issue of loose dogs. It had first been brought up by Mayor Alan Zavodny.

“They're running around from yard to yard and around town,” Zavodny said at that time. “People are posting (on social media) 'This dogs here,' 'Whose dog is this over there?' My concern is … You have children running bikes, and they're chasing it and what happens? We have a bad outcome.”

City code prohibits owners from letting their dogs run at large in town. Running at large means a dog was found off the owner’s property and not under control of the owner or responsible person by leash, chain or other physical restraint.

Butler County Sheriff Tom Dion said at the meeting that dogs running loose is a compliant that his office receives quite often. When loose dogs are caught, they are taken to a veterinary clinic to be held until they are claimed. The dog owner faces a fee, whether the dog is properly licensed or not. If the dog is not licensed, the owner is required to license it.

“We are gathering quite a few dogs. We do take them down to Bar S (veterinary clinic) where we do catch them in citation issues,” Dion said.

Loose dogs biting others appears to also have been an issue at that time as city officials referenced an incident that previously occurred in which a dog was attacked by another dog.

It was noted during the March 23 meeting that the fees for loose dogs are progressive, meaning they increase with each violation. Increasing the fees had been brought up, but it was mentioned that they had already risen not that long ago.

Interim City Administrator Tami Comte told The Banner-Press on May 10 that the sheriff’s office will be “cracking down” on the issue.

She said because the attack against Bernt’s mother and dog wasn’t reported until the next day, it’s difficult to find the dog that bit them. Deputies have been searching for the dog in question, she added, and people who see dogs running at large in David City should immediately contact the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.

Bernt said he asked to be put on the next council agenda but Comte said officials didn’t believe another discussion would be beneficial as council members are already aware there is an issue.

“We take his complaints and his concern seriously, and I have spoken to the sheriff himself about it,” Comte said.

Comte added that pet owners should also take responsibilities for their dogs and make sure that if their dog is let out of the home, that there is an above ground fence or an underground electric fence.

Bernt said he feels the issue needs to be further addressed and that maybe there should be an individual whose sole focus is loose dog enforcement. Bernt added that he and his mother are planning on attending Wednesday’s David City Council meeting to address the topic.

“I hope that more people are aware of how big the problem is in David City of loose dogs and it gets resolved. It's not the dog's fault, it's the owners,” Bernt said.

Hannah Schrodt is the news editor of The Banner-Press. Reach her via email at hannah.schrodt@lee.net.

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