Andrews council frustrated with pets not being secured by owners

The Andrews Town Council expressed frustration at its meeting on Monday, April 8, over dog owners’ inability to keep their animals secured.

The board’s discussion of the topic followed a report by Town Marshal Austin Bullock about a recent dog attack in town. The attack, stated Bullock, occurred on March 19 and saw a German Shepherd mix dog owned by Daniel and Natasha Wicker bite Angela Johnson. The dog, he said, got a hold of Johnson’s arm and bit with enough force to pierce her sweatshirt. After the attack, the dog was remanded to an animal shelter and quarantined for 10 days to determine if it had rabies, as the Wickers informed Bullock that the dog was behind on its shots.

Deeming the dog to have been both vicious and at-large, Bullock issued the Wickers a citation for violating the town’s nuisance ordinance. The citation requires the couple to pay a $25 redemption fee to the town in order to reclaim the dog from the shelter. Bullock informed the Wickers, though, that their dog would, ultimately, not be welcome back in town. In the interests of protecting the town’s residents, Bullock instructed the Wickers to either find the animal a new home outside of Huntington County or have it euthanized.

In response to Bullock’s ultimatum, the Wickers penned a letter to council, requesting that it authorize the dog’s return, provided certain conditions, such as the dog being outfitted with a muzzle, were met.

The board was not receptive to the letter.

“This is happening far too often,” said Councilman John Harshbarger of dog attacks in town. “And I have zero tolerance for it.”

Bullock affirmed Harshbarger’s contention that dog attacks were happening with regularity. In February, he noted, a child had been attacked by a dog that was on the loose. He issued the owner of that canine the same ultimatum he did to the Wickers; the owner ultimately elected to have the dog euthanized.

Council voted unanimously to enforce Bullock’s citation.

“People should be able to walk down the street, run down the street or ride their bicycle down the street without being attacked by these dogs,” asserted Harshbarger.

“As a dog owner,” added Council President Bill Johnson, “you have to take responsibility for your dog.”

In other business:

• Council approved a contract with E&B Paving to perform street improvements for $267,542.12. The improvements, which will also see sidewalks constructed, plus a storm sewer and inlets installed, will be funded primarily by a Community Crossings Matching Grant.

Jay Stankiewicz, of Fleis & VandenBrink, the firm overseeing the engineering aspects of the project, stated that after the contract was signed on Friday, April 12, E&B would be ready to get moving on the project. Johnson estimated that the project would be completed by the beginning of May.

• The board approved a three-year garbage-collection contract with H&H Disposal. Clerk-Treasurer Laura Dillon noted that residents had inquired if H&H would be accepting large items, such as washers and dryers. To that end, Dillon stated that she had been in touch with the City of Huntington about its orange sticker program, which enables residents to dispose of large items upon purchasing and affixing special stickers to them. Those items are subsequently picked up and disposed of by the city. H&H representatives at the meeting said they would be willing to work with the town if it elected to initiate such a program in Andrews.