Archive for Thursday, March 1, 2007

Owner avoids jail in Lansing dog attack

March 1, 2007

A Leavenworth woman will be required to pay fines totaling more than $800 but will not be required to spend any time in jail for charges related to her dog's attack on a 4-year-old Lansing boy.

Erica Andrews, who appeared with counsel Friday, Feb. 23, entered pleas of no contest to five charges related to the September 2006 incident at Lansing Heights Townhomes.

Judge William Pray accepted the pleas and found Andrews guilty of harboring a vicious animal, allowing a dog to run at large, no proof of registration for a vicious animal, no proof of insurance for a vicious animal and failure to muzzle a vicious animal.

Pray fined Andrews $385 for harboring a vicious dog and $110 on each of the other four counts to which she pleaded. Pray also sentenced Andrews to 30 days in the Leavenworth County Jail but suspended the sentence on the condition she pay the fines and not bring anymore pit bull terrier mixes into the city.

"I want to make sure there are no more of these animals in the city," he said.

Andrews had entered guilty pleas to the charges in November but withdrew her plea a month later. At the time, Pray advised her of the possibility of a jail sentence and urged her to retain legal counsel.

Andrews' former neighbor, Zachary Thomas, suffered bite wounds to his head, neck, shoulder blades and back when Andrews' dog - a pit bull terrier mix - ran outside.

The dog was apprehended at the scene and Lansing police issued citations to Andrews.

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

In a previous interview, Andrews said she was evicted from the townhomes after the incident and now lives in Leavenworth. She said she had the dog euthanized because she believed the court would have ordered it anyway and she didn't want to be held liable if the dog bit any more people.

"Our biggest concern was that the dog be destroyed and that happened," Mary Thomas said.

The city does not outlaw pit bulls or mixed pit bull breeds, but the city has had a vicious dog ordinance on the books since 1986, and 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.


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