Archive for Thursday, November 2, 2006

Vicious dog charges bring guilty pleas

November 2, 2006

A former Lansing resident has pleaded guilty to seven charges related to a September incident where a 4-year-old boy was bitten by a pit bull terrier mix at Lansing Heights Townhomes.

Erica Andrews, 21, appeared without counsel Wednesday, Nov. 1, in Lansing Municipal Court to answer to the citations.

Three of the charges - dog running at large, no proof of vaccinations and no proof of animal registration - carry a $75 fine each.

The four remaining citations each could carry up to a $1,000 fine and/or up to six months in jail. Those are: no proof of vicious animal registration, no proof of insurance for a vicious animal, no "beware of dog" signs posted and no leash or muzzle.

After Andrews entered the guilty plea, Municipal Court Judge William Pray told Andrews she would need to cooperate with Lansing Animal Control and Leavenworth City and County Probation, which will conduct a presentencing investigation.

Andrews is scheduled to appear in court again Dec. 6 for sentencing.

Andrews said she was evicted from the Lansing Heights Townhomes after the incident. She now lives in Leavenworth.

Andrews' former neighbor, Zachary Thomas, suffered bite wounds to his head, neck, shoulder blades and back on Sept. 28 when Andrews' dog ran outside. The dog was apprehended at the scene and transported to Leavenworth Animal Control Shelter for a mandatory 10-day quarantine.

Andrews said the Lansing city prosecutor filed a motion to have the dog destroyed, and Andrews voluntarily complied with the request Oct. 23.

"Ultimately, I believe that they would have made me put down my dog, and I didn't want to be liable if anything happened again," she said.

Lansing has had a vicious dog ordinance since 1986. The ordinance specifically mentions pit bulls and mixed pit bull breeds.

Owners of vicious dogs are required to maintain an insurance policy of not less than $200,000 per incident against any claim, loss, damage or injury to any human, property, pet or livestock resulting from the dog's attack. Owners of vicious dogs must comply with leash, muzzle, signage and registration restrictions as well.

Andrews said that although she pleaded guilty to the charges, she regretted part of her plea. She pleaded guilty to all seven charges out of nervousness, she said.

"I was guilty of having a vicious dog, because obviously he bit someone," she said. "The only ones I didn't want to plead guilty to were the no leash and no muzzle, because he had gotten out because of my little sister."

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