Council rules dogs a danger

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By Patrick Yost

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The Madison City Council, in its third hearing on the matter, voted 3–2  to uphold a “dangerous dog” designation for two Boxer dogs living at the East Avenue residence of Jeff Davis and Carrie Christie.

According to Madison City Attorney Joe Reitman and Mayor Fred Perriman, the couple is filing an appeal to be heard in superior court. Council members Carrie Peters–Reid and Bobby Crawford voted to uphold the designation, council members Rick Blanton and Chris Hodges voted to remove the designation. Mayor Fred Perriman broke the tie.

In May, the dogs bit Gary Roberts while he was in the back yard ostensibly to examine the couple’s pool.

Prior to Wednesday’s meeting the couple issued a motion to the council asking that Council Member Joe DiLetto recuse himself from the discussions based, in part, on DiLetto’s statement at a previous meeting that “he was ‘tough on dogs’ generally and then recounted a story, which he asserted as true, regarding an unrelated dog bite incident. Mr. Diletto expressed an inappropriate bias with this statement,” the motion reads.

The couple also asserted that through Diletto’s statements the entire council and mayor were tainted.

“Mr. Diletto is required to be a neutral and independent adjudicator. As a witness, Mr. Diletto has placed this council in the untenable position of having to judge the credibility of one of their colleagues against the owners. The owners are absolutely entitled to a tribunal which is impartial and independent. However, that cannot be accomplished at this point because through no fault of your own, Mr. Diletto has crated a conflict of interest for each member of the council.”

Diletto recused himself from the hearing.

However, the remainder mayor and council all told Reitman that they could remain impartial. “It will have no affect,” Crawford said. “I’ve heard the evidence and that’s what I’ll go by.”

“I can make a sound and fair decision,” said Perriman.

During discussion, Hodges told the council she was struggling with the couple’s assertion that Roberts had illegally trespassed on to their property.  She said the couple introduced affidavit’s bolstering their claim that the pool company had been “lackadaisical” in their attempts to communicate to customers when a pool employee would be on the property. Davis and Christie, she said, are “good citizens.”

“There’s no compelling evidence they are going to lie about this,” she said.

“I don’t think he had the authority to be on the property.”

“The Davis’ didn’t do anything wrong. They’re dogs were in a back yard in a fence.”

In written court documents, Roberts asserted that after he entered the fenced area someone in the house released the two dogs. He was bitten on the hand and leg.

On two occasions during the deliberation, Christie conferred with Reitman regarding trespassing and private property issues.

When he called for a vote, Perriman urged the council to remain impartial. “In my 30 years on the council I’ve never had an incident like this,” he said. “Vote your conscience… it doesn’t matter if e are friend or not friends. You are here to do the right thing.”

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