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Family seeks to have dog deemed vicious after it bites teen

Boy bit by dog

POCATELLO, Idaho - One American Falls family is launching an investigation after their 17-year old son was attacked by a dog on the night of July 5.

Katrina Evans said her son Robert Odom was at a house party that night when he fell off the back porch stairs and the homeowner's pit bull-mastiff mix attacked him.

Odom is now seeking hyperbaric treatment for his wounds.

On Wednesday, Evans approached the City Council to request the dog be deemed as vicious, but she felt ignored when her request was struck down.

"They didn't follow any of their procedures or their laws, and the ordinance states, 'bodily injury, a dog is deemed vicious,'" Evans said.

In a way, Evans is correct.

The city ordinance states:

"Any dog with a known propensity, tendency or disposition to attack without provocation, or cause injury, or to otherwise threaten the safety of human beings or domestic animals or;

"(B) Any dog which, without provocation, has attacked or bitten a human being or domestic animal; or

"(C) Any dog owned or harbored primarily or in part for the purpose of dogfighting, or any dog trained for dogfighting; or

"(D) Any dog which, without provocation, chases or approaches a person upon the streets, sidewalks, or public property in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack. (Ord. 592, 3-18-2009)"

It also goes on to state:

"If the animal control officer or police officer has cause to believe that a dog is vicious, the animal control officer may find and declare that dog a vicious dog. (Ord. 592, 3-18-2009)"

This means it's up to the discretion of the police department or the animal control officer to deem the dog to be vicious, not the City Council.

On Thursday, Police Chief Brandon Wilkinson said the department has been investigating this incident, and the dog was kept in its owner's backyard, surrounded by proper fencing, while tied on a leash.

He also said some of the people at the party were given citations for consuming alcohol underage.

Many of the details of the investigation cannot be released since Odom is a minor.

City Councilman Kurtis Workman said in a statement that he backs the decision of the police department.

"These types of situations are always unfortunate and in this incident, complex," Workman wrote. "The American Falls Police Department investigated the incident professionally and thoroughly and concluded the city's ordinance did not apply in this case. As a member of the city council, I personally support the AFPD's diligence and conclusion."

Although that particular dog has not had any former complaints, Evans still wants to hire an attorney and launch another investigation in an effort to have this not happen to anyone else in the future.

"If the wounds he received aren't vicious, I don't know what is. ... Robert's a big kid at 260 pounds. What if a 40- or 60-pound kid is walking through the area and they get attacked? What is the council going to say, then? 'Oops, my bad' as they put that kid in the ground?"

The dog owner's family was not available to be reached on Thursday to comment.

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