Two pit bulls that have been impounded by the city of Lynn Haven had been terrorizing neighbors for months prior to the city picking them up in May, according to police reports.
The Lynn Haven City Commission on Thursday upheld staff’s declaration that the animals are a nuisance under Florida law. Whitney Shipman and Marty Steverson of 410 Illinois Ave., are the owners of the two pit bulls, named Ollie and Prissy. Steverson filed for the appeal hearing Thursday but never showed up.
He could not be reached for comment Friday.
They now have 14 days to install adequate fencing so the dogs can’t get out, and the dogs must get their rabies shots. If they fail to comply, the city can make a claim to take ownership of the dogs, said animal control supervisor Ramona Bibbs.
The city then might look for an animal rescue group to adopt the dogs, she said.
The pit bulls could be euthanized if a home can’t be found, officials said.
Neighbors said in police reports and testimony Thursday that Prissy is able to easily scale a 6-foot-high fence in Steverson’s yard.
Numerous police reports show how the dogs would find ways to charge out of their yard at people who live along the street.
On May 22, Howard Buchanan, who lives on Indiana Avenue, told police he was walking his black and white Boston terrier named “Itize,” and as he walked his dog past 410 Illinois Ave., the two pit bulls came charging at him, a police report states.
One of the pit bulls grabbed the terrier by the neck, and Buchanan had to fend off the attack with a 4-foot cane he had with him.
Neither Buchanan or his dog were injured in the attack, but police decided to impound the animals pending a further investigation.
Susan Taylor, who lives a couple of doors down from Steverson’s home, said in a police report that on May 14 one of the pit bulls jumped the fence and growled at her family.
“Happens every time she is out,” she writes in the report. “Jumps back over before police can get here.”
She said the pit bills are repeatedly trying to bust into her yard.
“A few times my son has gotten too close and they snapped and tried to bite,” she writes in the report. “We could not park our car in [the] carport area because of the dogs trying to grab at the kids. We have piled stuff up against holes, but the dogs are so large and aggressive they knock them down or dig new holes. Backyard feels unsafe too due to dogs attacking the fence.”
She said the dogs brutally killed a cat a couple of years ago.
Taylor wrote that she is very concerned for her children’s safety.
“My son is special needs and does not understand while on our yard these dogs could still bite him,” she wrote. “Dogs have made large holes in fence and can get up to shoulders on our driveway. They snap at us. Bark and growl.”
Ralph Zaiger, who lives a few houses down from the dogs on Illinois Avenue, encountered them Jan. 25 as he was in his front yard.
“When I started to approach them to chase them away, the solid brown one bared its teeth and came toward me,” he wrote. “The white and brown one stood its ground and started barking.”
He said he picked up a stick to try and chase them out of the yard.
Animal control officer Ivan Rogers told the commission the dogs have not had their rabies shots, and Steverson has not done anything to contain the dogs so that they won’t continue to get out, even though he said he would.
“You’ve got a lack of compliance,” he said.
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