Center woman describes dog attack to town board

CENTER — During the citizen comments period Tuesday night at the Center Town Board meeting, Center resident Regina Juhre gave a harrowing account of how a vicious dog attacked and severely injured her 11-year-old daughter’s puppy and nearly turned on her daughter.

Juhre’s daughter was holding an American Eskimo dog when a neighbor’s female pit bull “almost attacked [her] and tore the puppy from her arms.” Juhre said her daughter was severely traumatized by the event and her dog suffered several jagged puncture wounds to its neck. Heart-breaking pictures of the puppy were shown as evidence of the injuries inflicted by the attacking dog.

She reported that her daughter is terrified to go out of the house if dogs are running loose and will not leave the house if she even suspects the neighbor dog that attacked her puppy is anywhere in the vicinity.

Town Administrator Brian Lujan acknowledged that the town has had difficulty addressing the stray problem for some time now, long before he came on as administrator. He said 12 dogs were picked up over a two-and-a half-month period and taken to the shelter.

To make matters worse, Juhre reported, the dog that attacked her puppy is a repeat offender. When Sgt. Tim Arellano responded to investigate the incident, Juhre said, the pit bull’s owners told him she had “killed before.”

Newly sworn in board member James Sanchez and Bill McClure weighed in on the attack report, with Sanchez recounting how a relative had been mauled by a pack of dogs in town.

When Lujan said the dog had been impounded in a kennel at its owner’s house for 10 days, McClure questioned why it was not impounded at a local animal shelter for that time period and the owner made to pay boarding fees. Lujan and McClure then discussed how the owners of stray animals could be identified and notified when their pets are taken by the town or transported to a shelter.

Currently stray dogs are held temporarily outside of Center until shelter personnel can transport them. Lujan said the dogs are hard for town employees to catch and often disappear between the time a problem is reported and the employee arrives on scene.

McClure objected to impounding animals without notifying the owner but Lujan reminded him the town often does not know who the owners of the animals are. The town requires the dogs to be tagged, but many ignore the requirement. Lujan suggested pet owners be given a courtesy warning when animals are picked up and the second time a $75 fine be imposed.

The problem will be addressed further during the town’s ongoing codification process. Juhre says she has saved all her veterinary bills and will appear in county court on the attack May 30.

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