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Newton board upholds two pitbulls' designation as 'dangerous'
Newton County Animal Services
Newton County Animal Services on Lower River Road. - photo by Image courtesy of Google

COVINGTON, Ga. — Two pitbulls that have attacked and killed dozens of animals over a 10-month period in west Newton County will not be returned to their owner until she complies with a list of requirements for dogs designated as being legally "dangerous."

Newton County Animal Control Board on Monday upheld the Department of Animal Services' designation of two male pitbulls after they killed four types of animals, including some that were inside a fence.

The dogs have been held by Newton County Animal Services since it designated them as dangerous.

"They will not be returned until (the owner) has complied with the requirements of having a dangerous dog," said Cindy Wiemann, director of Animal Services.

State law classifies a dog as a "dangerous dog” if it "aggressively attacks in a manner that causes a person to reasonably believe that the dog posed an imminent threat of serious injury to such person or another person although no such injury occurs."

It also classifies a dog as "dangerous" if it "kills a pet animal" while off the dog owner's property.

The law also says a "vicious dog" is a dog that "inflicts serious injury on a person or causes serious injury to a person resulting from reasonable attempts to escape from the dog's attack."

The county ordinance requires a qualified owner to obtain a registered dog certificate from Animal Services for a dangerous or vicious dog after evidence is given of it being kept in a secured enclosure, signs being posted that warn of a dangerous or vicious dog, and the dog has been surgically sterilized and microchipped.  

Wiemann said the only requirement the department allows time for compliance is the dog's sterilization because a veterinarian must do it.

The ordinance also states the owner could keep both "dangerous" dogs but no more than one certificate "shall be issued per domicile" which means she could keep both animals but not at the same residence, Wiemann said.  

No owner can keep a dangerous or vicious dog within 200 yards of any aquatic center, church, convenience store and a number of other businesses and locations "due in part to these being frequented by children and senior citizens, and in some cases, food present," the county ordinance states.

The pitbulls' owner, Cheyenne Bexley, had appealed the dangerous dog designations to the Animal Control Board.

Board members Monday heard that the pitbulls' killings of animals occurred between December 2020 and Oct. 7.

They killed at least one domestic cat and a wild raccoon at a home on Russell Braden Road and a total of nine goats and 40 chickens at a home on Salem Road. 

The goats and chickens were killed while they were in a fenced enclosure on two separate occasions. Three goats were killed in December 2020, and six goats and the chickens were killed on Oct. 7. 

The Russell Braden Road resident said the dogs jumped a four-foot fence to attack his cat and he had to use a pipe to convince them to retreat.

The goats' owner told the board the dogs should be euthanized because Bexley had been an irresponsible owner and had put neighboring residents at risk of harm.

Animal Services officers had given Bexley six citations for allowing the dogs to run at large since December 2020 and four citations for not having the dogs vaccinated against rabies. 

Bexley said she thought the dogs had been vaccinated for rabies in 2020 when they were picked up by Rockdale County Animal Care and Control but found they had not been.

The owner can appeal the dangerous dog designations to Probate Court.