Local News

Harnett dad wants stricter rules for dogs

Posted May 31, 2010

— A 9-year-old Spring Lake boy is recovering after being attacked by a pit pull.

Jody Pendleton said his stepson, Aaron Smith, was attacked May 26 by the dog, named Scooby, and he suffered bone-deep gashes in his leg as a result.

"Aaron was talking with a friend at the edge of the yard," Pendleton said. "He walked back to his bike but says before he could get on, the dog cam charging and dug its teeth into his left leg."

Pendleton said the dog has chased children before but that its owner, Jim Fink, said the dog would not hurt anyone.

Records show the dog bit two other children in separate attacks in the past year. Their injuries were minor.

Pendleton says the county isn't doing enough with tough dogs.

Harnett County does not have a leash law. Animal control officers say Scooby's owner kept him tethered in the yard, but the dog kept breaking free, Pendleton said.

“The dog doesn’t belong near kids, or people for that matter," he said. "There’s nothing telling that he wouldn’t attack an adult.”

If a pet hurts a person, the county does not automatically have the power to remove it. Interim animal control director Rhonda Hudson said.

She said animal control cannot forcibly remove a pet, even after it has attacked and hurt someone. She said the county’s policy requires the owner to pay a $70 fine to release the animal from quarantine. Then the animal would have to be confined at home

“It would be under lock and key. They would have to keep it in a secure enclosure,” she said.

If the owner surrenders the animal, however, it is euthanized.

Fink, could not be reached for comment Monday.

Hudson says he did surrender the dog, which means the dog will be euthanized.

Still, Pendleton says Harnett County needs a tougher law.

"So, it takes my child to have almost 20 stitches in his leg and be traumatized, and all the medical bills connected to that before they will do something?" he said.

Officials say concerned neighbors can petition animal control to remove a potentially dangerous animal. The agency reviews the request and decides whether the animal should be taken away.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • millerpropmgt Jun 10, 2010

    Here is the kicker to all this. After this dog was finally removed the owner went and got another dog same breed same freedom. Terrorizing this same little boy. Wasn't he put through enough? There is nothing we can do about it. The family has no option but to move..It is the owners not the animals.. just like it isn't the children it is the parents. Take ownership and do the right thing.. why is this so hard?

  • mrstoddard Jun 3, 2010

    This problem is not limited to Harnett Co. although I find it unconscionable that they don't have a leash law. My grandmother lives in Wake Co. and was hunted in her own yard by her neighbor's dog (not a pit bull). The dog bit her leg although it was aiming for much higher. This was the 4th time the dog had gone after a person. The owners had also been asked not to take the dog back to Flaherty parks's dog park because it was fighting with other dogs. Unfortunately no one reported those earlier incidents. So now the dog is back next door and my grandmother is afraid to leave the house she's lived in for over 50 yrs. AND the neighbor/dog owner refuses to speak w/ Animal Control officers and ordered them off his property. Seriously, NC localities need a better way of dealing with problem dogs.

    In the meantime: If you are snapped at or bitten, you have to report it. The next time that dog tries to bite it might be your child or your grandmother. AND If you like to walk on N. Main St. in

  • ohmygosh Jun 2, 2010

    It is evident that some NC'ers love their dogs more than children.

  • lorivalentine1 Jun 1, 2010

    All dogs have the potential to be dangerous.. I find smaller dogs more obnoxious as they bite more frequently and are usually more territorial. The diffeence between a dog that bites and one that does not is training and socializing. There are many more ignorant owners with small dogs that attack and bite but never get reported due to the size of the dog than bigger breeds. Amount of damage is the difference. I have friends with the sweetest pit ever and friends with Italian Mastiffs that I would not be comfortable with kids around. The owners of these dogs are very responsible and extremely cautious with these dogs around people or other animals. At the same time I also know people with varied other breeds of dogs that have bitten more than once with no consequences. You can not condemn all dogs based on size. Put blame on the owners where it belongs.

  • kpd200664 Jun 1, 2010

    I am a Harnett County resident and was attacked by my neighbors Pitt Bull 2 1/2 years ago. I was standing in my yard talking to my neighbor when his Pitt Pull jumped the fence and attacked me- opening a 3" gash completely through the side of my face. I encountered the same rediculous response from Harnett County. To top it off, one month later the same dog showed up in my yard, growled at me and I shot it. I was arrested for shooting the dog, the police even implied that it was not self defense. Of course the charges were dropped before it went to court after I told the county manager that I would show up in court with a face full of scars and a record of phone calls with him asking the county to do something about the dog. The father of the child in the latest attack needs to find a lawyer who is not afraid of Harnett County and sue the county. I can provide ample proof that the county has been negligent in taking care of dangerous dogs.

  • dlb800 Jun 1, 2010

    Pit bulls are a somewhat unique breed. Their jaws have developed over time to be extremely strong. I like pit bulls, but I would probably think twice before having one.

    While the county may not be able to do anything about the dog, the victim's owner can sue the dog's owner. Take him for everything he has. The truth is, if the dog has attacked before, he should have done something then.

  • DML Jun 1, 2010

    Pitbulls are the only dogs that the media cares about because it makes news. Look how many people have already commented on this article. If this had been a story about a cute cuddly Dalmatian this wouldn’t have half the audience it does. The same thing as putting out an article about something trivial the NAACP said. I have two loving pitbulls at home that are wonderful pets, b/c they have been socialized and trained well. Just this weekend my 52 yr old mother and my 8 yr old nephew came to house sit and dog sit for me while I was out of town. Other than pulling my 5’4” mom around the neighborhood some, they were no trouble for her. I put the dogs up when I left and she came by afterwards to let them out and watch them all weekend. You can’t overstate the importance of addressing stupidity in cases of dog bites. Why was the dog chained up in the yard? These breeds need lots of exercise and interaction with people and this indicates the dog got neither.

  • sweetsea Jun 1, 2010

    These vicious breed owners are just as dangerous as the dogs themselves because they have no sense when it comes to large dogs and children. The owner in this story is just like every other owner that bites or kills a child. It is always the same,"they have never bitten anyone before", comment that frosts me. The law needs to come down hard and I mean hard on these owners. If the penalties were severe enough in financial terms and jail time then few people would be stupid enough to own certain breeds in heavily populated areas. If one bites one of my grandchildren I will euthanize the dog on the spot. There is no excuse for letting ones dog run loose.

  • dissatisifiedwitheverything Jun 1, 2010

    As an animal lover, this is not the dog's fault. Euthanize the owner, not the dog. Most owners of pits want to be "tough". They are not, they are only uneducated. It's a shame this dog has to die because of the ignorance of the owner. And . . . people need to get a grip on their children. Stop letting your kids run wild. Most kids are as bad as the dogs, some worse.
    I prefer to be around dogs instead of kids any day.

  • Likestobearrogant Jun 1, 2010

    even if they pass tougher laws, people will break them. These dog owners who always claim their dogs are their children, a member of the family ect. ect. but they let the dogs free in the yard and they wander around to others yards, cross the roads, get in trash, make a mess of other peoples things. Would they let their 2 year old child do that?
    These irresponsible dog owners should have their animals taken away. Even putting a dog in a 4x4 pen in the middle of the back yard in the hot sun 24-7 so it can bark 24-7 is not "taking Care" of the situation. I myself live in a rural area and have called animal control on the barking dog and they say nothing can be done. We have also had several dogs get out trash that was in bins with lids, We have had a dog scratch the whole side of our pick up truck. Randon dogs come in our yard and if we see them they have gotten and will continue o get the 45 pulled on them!