A Molino toddler was transported to a local hospital after a dog attack on the same day that Escambia County commissioners approved amendments to the dangerous dog ordinance on its first reading.
Escambia County EMS received a call at 9:47 a.m. Thursday about a dog bite in the 100 block of Rumford Road in Molino, where they found a toddler who had been attacked by TWO ENGLISH BULLDOGS in a neighbor's yard.
It's not clear whether the toddler opened the home's gate to gain access to the dogs, or whether the gate was left open.
Escambia County public information officer Joy Tsubooka said the owner of the animals surrendered the dogs to animal control, where they will be in quarantine for 10 days. Tsubooka said the dogs didn't have a bite history, but the owner chose to have the English Bulldogs euthanized at the end of the quarantine period.
"We're just really looking at this as an unfortunate accident," Tsubooka said, adding that there are no pending charges on the owner.
The incident occurred on the same day the commissioners heard public comment from five community members concerned about the prevalence of animal attacks in the county.
The public hearing was a prelude to the commissioners approving an update to the county's dangerous dog ordinance on first reading. The major changes in the ordinance center around the requisites for dangerous-dog investigation, giving more power to the animal control officer to make a judgment call, and allowing a dog to be investigated after it has attacked another animal once, as opposed to twice as previously listed.
Animal control director John Robinson told the commissioners that the ordinance updates bring local legislation in line with state law, and that they better protect both sides of the issue. He said that animals that are provoked to attack but aren't typically dangerous can be taken into account, and on the other side, animals don't need to attack more than once to be considered a danger.
Several of the residents who spoke at the meeting took issue with a line that said an officer "may" impound the animal being investigated, instead of "shall."
"I think any dangerous animal should be impounded first ... where does the line draw before someone is actually killed or maimed?" community member Dana Daniel said at the meeting.
Daniel recently watched as his neighbor's pit bulls dragged another neighbor's Chihuahua into his front yard as they attacked it. Daniel, his wife, and the Chihuahua's owner Don Sigman all spoke at Thursday's meeting, as the pit bulls were never investigated or taken into custody because it was the first time that an attack on another animal had been reported. Robinson told the board that had the proposed ordinance been in place in that situation, those animals would have been investigated further.
"Under the new ordinance those dogs would've been brought into our shelter, it would've been a no-brainer for our officers in the field," Robinson said.
The board instructed Robinson and his team at animal control to review Sigman's case in light of the new ordinance. The first reading to update the existing dangerous dog ordinance passed 5-0, and will need to pass a second reading before it's adopted.