Prairie Village rejects residents’ appeal of dangerous animal designation for dog that bit 3 neighbors

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The Prairie Village city council this week declined a longtime resident’s appeal of the police department’s decision to label his family dog dangerous under city code.

Prairie Village police made the determination that the dog, named Bo, was dangerous after being called to Menorah Medical Center in December after getting word that a man had suffered a serious wound from a dog bite. Robert Barickman told officers that Bo, who was living at the home of Russell Jones in the neighborhood west of Corinth Square, had run up and bit him, leaving a two inch cut and puncture wound that required stitches.

Upon investigating that incident, police learned that Bo had bit two neighbors the previous summer. In one instance, he bit the hand of a next door neighbor while she was talking with the Joneses in her front yard. The wound on her hand required medical attention. A month later, the dog bit a neighbor who had agreed to participate in a training exercise designed to socialize Bo and reduce his aggressiveness. That wound required eight stitches.

Jones told the city council that he and his wife had taken in the dog, which belongs to their daughter, after it became apparent that her apartment in North Carolina, where she is attending law school, was not big enough to accommodate the animal. The animal was adopted from a shelter, and is a mix thought to include Rhodesian ridgeback ancestry. Jones said he and his wife felt obligated to try to help rehabilitate the animal, which appeared to have suffered some traumas prior to its adoption by his daughter.

In the wake of the bites, the Joneses had a four-foot metal fence installed around their backyard, and began keeping the dog inside most of the time in an effort to reduce the likelihood that he could get out. But those measures were of little solace to many of his neighbors, who told the council they worried about the threat the dog posed to children.

“There’s no way, with the fences that they’re showing, when you have little kids that live next door that they can tell me 100 percent that this dog doesn’t pose a problem or pose a threat,”

Ashley Edmonds, who lives next door and has small children, told the council she was afraid to load her kids into the car in the driveway on account of the possibility that Bo might get loose, instead doing it in the garage with the door closed.

Jones said that he and his wife were planning to move out of Prairie Village, but asked that the city remove the dangerous dog designation so that they could keep Bo in the city until their departure without having to secure the $500,000 insurance policy required under city code. He said they didn’t have anywhere to keep Bo otherwise, and worried that they might have to put him down.

The council voted unanimously to uphold the dangerous dog designation, and gave the Joneses some suggestions about options for housing him until they left the city.

Serena Schermoly, who was a proponent of ending the city’s breed-specific ban, said she was very concerned about the threat Bo posed to the neighbors.

“This is one of my arguments when we talk about certain breeds,” she said prior to the vote. “It’s not the breed. It’s the owner of the dog that’s responsible.”