A Mission Hills woman is questioning how the city handled a complaint about a dog attack on the grounds of Indian Hills Country club this past winter that has led to a legal appeal.
Judy Wells wrote the Mission Hills City Council last week in the wake of their recent budget planning meetings to suggest that the city could be spending less on legal bills, and that “most if not all Mission Hills legal bills are self-inflicted, the result of faulty ordinances and/or faulty implementation of ordinances.”
Case in point, she said, is a situation involving Prairie Village resident Chuck Dehner and his German shepherd, Ze. In February, Mission Hills sent Dehner a letter declaring Ze a “potentially dangerous dog” after an incident in which Ze purportedly bit two boys.
“Due to the thickness of the clothing the boys were wearing the dog bites to the two boys resulted in minor injuries,” read the letter to Dehner. “Had that protective clothing not been present the attack that occurred on February 2, 2014 at the Indian Hills Country Club would have been more injurious.”
The move by Mission Hills requires Dehner to muzzle Ze and keep the dog on a leash no longer than four feet when within the city limits. A first violation could result in a fine of $2,500. A second violation could result in “an order by the Judge for the dog to be humanely disposed of.”
Dehner filed a lawsuit against the city in March claiming that the city had provided him no opportunity to review documents or witness statements about the incident.
“If Mr. Dehner had been allowed to present evidence before an independent judicial authority, there are dozens of independent witnesses who could testify to Ze’s gentle demeanor with children or others,” wrote attorney David Woodbury in the petition.
Wells contends that the city’s ordinance regarding declaring pets dangerous is poorly written, and does not require due process. If it did, she says, the city wold be able to avoid lawsuits like Dehner’s.
“The dog saw a bigger kid pushing a littler kid around and grabbed the bigger kid’s arm to stop him,” Wells said. “Dogs have a sense of fair play, and Ze was intervening, not attacking. He should not be menaced to have his dog put down without a chance to present his side.”
Dehner’s attorney declined to comment on the state of their petition aside from to say that, “The City Attorney for Mission Hills and I are working in good faith to resolve the matter.”
A copy of the letter Mission Hills sent to Dehner as well as the petition against the city are embedded below.