Cherokee County does not have a full time animal control officer. But after several reports of dog bites in one neighborhood, residents are trying to take matters into their own hands.
“Somebody in this dang county needs to take some action,” said Richard Destefan. He is talking about the dogs who live down the street on Maltby Road in Marble.
“We’re fed up with being bit constantly and living in fear,” he said.
Toting a couple dozen signatures, he wants them out of the neighborhood. Destefan has bite marks on his legs. Another neighbor shows where he had to get stitches.
The county health department’s numbers show it’s happened here at least 11 times.
“Many of us have scars, and have been maimed by the dogs with bite marks,” he said.
According to North Carolina law, to classify a dog as “dangerous” it would have to kill another person or inflict a serious injury, unprovoked.
“That’s not occurred in this particular situation,” said Cherokee County Sheriff Keith Lovin.
Puncture wounds aren’t severe enough to deem a dog “dangerous”, he said.
All the biting incidents occurred on the dog owner’s property, which includes some rental homes.
The sheriff says most bites happen when things get out of hand around the property.
“This one animal that has bitten before, in all the cases we’ve seen, has not bitten anyone to the level that rises to the dangerous dog definition,” Lovin said.
“I could’ve understood if it bit leg his off,” said dog owner Larry Phillips, reacting to the neighborhood petition against his animals.
“They’re not a threat to the community because they stay here in this yard,” Phillips said. “If you stay on your property, are you a threat to the community? I don’t think so.”
State law requires any dog considered potentially dangerous to be muzzled and kept on a leash when they’re outside. The Sheriff says Phillips is complying with the statute.