Sedley woman to make appeal to board

Published 1:00 pm Saturday, May 24, 2014

COURTLAND—The Sedley woman who said she was attacked by a pit bull this past winter is scheduled to address the Southampton County Board of Supervisors during its regular meeting set for Tuesday, May 27. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the administrative building of Courtland.

In her interview with The Tidewater News (“Sedley woman still recovering from attack.” April 6, 2014), Heather Hoffman said she had been walking her golden retriever to the ballpark on Jan. 15. A pit bull suddenly appeared and jumped on her dog, which had come between Hoffman and the attacker. Neither she nor her own dog were bitten. But in the struggle, the tibia bone in Hoffman’s right knee reportedly snapped and broke. This caused her to be out of work for three months. She said she was told by an attorney that compensation was unlikely because the pit bull’s owner supposedly had no job or insurance. This in turn compelled her to borrow money and get help from Social Services.

In her letter to the county requesting an appearance, Hoffman stated, “If we can’t pass one for all dogs, can we at least pass one for breeds that are known to attack?”

County guidelines in Sec. 3-96 make distinctions between dangerous and vicious dogs.

“Dangerous dog” generally means one that has “bitten, attacked or inflicted injury on a person or companion animal that is a dog or cat, or killed a companion animal that is a dog or cat.”

“Vicious dog” is defined one that has “(i) killed a person; (ii) inflicted serious injury to a person, including multiple bites, serious disfigurement, serious impairment of health, or serious impairment of a bodily function; or (iii) continued to exhibit the behavior that resulted in a previous finding by a court or, on or before July 1, 2006, by an animal control officer as authorized by ordinance, that it is a dangerous dog, provided that its owner has been given notice of that finding.”

Another provision is that no canine or crossbred will be considered in either category just because it’s a particular breed. Further, owning a particular breed is not forbidden.

In state code 3.2-6539, regarding an ordinance requiring dogs to be kept on a leash, governing bodies of any locality can adopt rules demanding that dogs be kept on a leash or restrained in other ways. Courts can then be asked to order referendums on such ordinances.

In other issues coming before the board, the supervisors are expected to vote on the proposed $56.2 million budget for fiscal year 2014-2015. Included is a recommended 2-cent increase in the real estate tax. That money would be devoted to support fire and rescue operations in the county.