It was less than six months ago that city of Dunkirk resident Dominick DeSanto addressed Common Council about his dog being attacked. DeSanto was back before council recently to report another incident concerning a dog attack.
"This is the third time my dogs have been attacked by other dogs," he stated. "This was a pit-pug that supposedly got loose and attacked my dog for no reason."
DeSanto explained this dog was not injured like his smaller dog Megan was in October.
"That cost me $1,800 because the man never paid me. Now, something has to be done. I'm asking you what can I do? I can't walk my dogs anymore? Should I start carrying a club?" he asked. "I had pepper spray but it was a Sunday and I had my Sunday clothes on, I didn't carry it with me.
"I mean something has to be done, right? I don't know what to do. I can't walk up the street, my dog gets attacked. I go around the corner, the dog gets attacked. Can you come up with a solution for me?"
DeSanto said he'd be happy if the city would enclose his backyard so his dogs would be safe.
"Luckily this wasn't the little female four-pound dog which got hurt the last time; two broken ribs, punctured lung. Like I said, $1,800 it cost me. This time my dog didn't get hurt bad. He did get a little puncture wound but it was nothing serious," he stated. "I reported it to the police. That's all I can do. Now, it's up to you to come up with some kind of a solution for me. I mean where can I go?"
During his report time, First Ward Councilman Michael Michalski apologized to DeSanto, but noted the state prevents the city from banning any particular breeds and controls the fines that can be assessed.
"I know you said you carry around some mace and I do the same thing. I have mine attached to my leash so whenever I take the dog for a walk it's always going to be there," Michalski said. "But as far as what we can do proactively in the future, I know we'll be meeting with our ACO (Animal Control Officer) relatively soon, probably before July 1 when his contract is up to have his review and get any input he can give us on the situation."
Council members noted they planned to discuss the issue at upcoming committee meetings.
Police Chief David Ortolano was subsequently asked about DeSanto's fear for his dogs and what laws govern dog owners.
"The dog issues are directly controlled by Ag and Market Law of New York State and we have to abide by them. We can't supersede them, we have to work under the umbrella of Ag and Market," he replied. "As Judge Drag will tell you, the fines and any of the sentencing or anything, all come under the Agricultural and Markets Law."
Ortolano said he has worked with DeSanto and wishes there was more that could be done. A meeting with Animal Control Officer Steve Purol is set, according to Ortolano.
"I want to sit down with the ACO and go over and make sure that everything that we could do had been done, but to my knowledge it has been," the chief explained. "We made the arrests on them. They've been to court on these issues. The judge can fine what he can fine. If we get to the issue where maybe it becomes a repeated thing with the same animal we do have a other avenues available, dangerous dog complaint-type issues.
"We will keep documenting to see if that is an avenue we need to explore too, so we're going to try every possible way that we can. I feel bad for him that he was out the amount of money he brought up at the council meeting."
Ortolano noted having a small claims court judgment and collecting it are two different things.
"If I could go get it for him I'd go there tomorrow for him, believe me," he stated. "He's a good citizen, he's a fine person in the community and I hate the fact that he's afraid to walk his dog.
"Unfortunately, we've just got to keep doing our job and hopefully somewhere along the line we get to take that extra step. We'll take whatever enforcement avenue we have to try and stop the problem."
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