The city of Portage served a certified letter Tuesday notifying a resident her dog is classified as “dangerous” after police said the animal bit a 6-year-old girl in the face and prevented veterinarians from safely performing an exam.
Portage Assistant Police Chief Keith Klafke said the city sent the letter Tuesday, and the dog’s owner will have five days to seek an appeal if they wish.
If an appeal is made, a final decision on whether to uphold the dangerous classification would ultimately be left to a vote at the city’s next Legislative and Regulatory Committee meeting on July 1.
Brooke Johnson owns the 15-month-old dog that she said is a pit bull. She said the dog has never behaved aggressively toward her own seven children and city officials are being judgmental simply because of the breed of the dog.
“My dog’s around kids all the time. It is not dangerous,” Johnson said. “He’s a puppy. This literally was a freak accident. He deserves another chance.”
Johnson said she’s been trying to find a rescue shelter that will accept the dog because she cannot afford new insurance payments. She said she would do whatever is necessary to make the situation right by the family of the 6-year-old girl.
Klafke said whenever an animal is classified as dangerous, the owner must pay a $118 fine, register for insurance, buy signs and put up fences to secure the animal at their property. Some owners might choose to get rid of an animal instead.
Dangerous is one step below the “vicious” label. City ordinance requires any vicious dogs be removed from city limits entirely.
The Daily Register on Tuesday obtained a copy of a Portage Police Department report detailing the June 5 incident.
According to the report, Patrol Officer Joshua Troth responded to Divine Savior Hospital in Portage at 7:27 p.m. on June 5 for a dog bite victim.
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Troth spoke to the girl’s grandmother, who said the 6-year-old was walking down the stairs at her babysitter’s house at 818 W. Franklin St. when a dog named Chapo came around a corner, jumped up and bit her on the face, the report says.
The 6-year-old girl received stitches to her face, including below her right eye. She had a swollen lip and marks on her nose, the report states.
Johnson said Chapo must have been startled by people coming around a corner in the house quickly and unexpectedly.
The report states Johnson told police the dog had been on a leash inside the house and was up to date on its rabies vaccines. Police issued a quarantine order and told the owner she needed to schedule an appointment with a veterinarian as soon as possible.
According to the report, Patrol Officer Sarah Rueth conducted a follow-up investigation the next day. Rueth spoke with staff at the Portage Veterinary Clinic about an appointment involving Chapo that morning.
Veterinary staff told Rueth they tried to perform an initial quarantine exam on Chapo, but they were unable to complete the procedure because “he was acting so aggressively.”
Johnson bought a muzzle and tried to use it on the dog. But it was not properly attached, the muzzle fell off, and the dog began growling at people in the clinic.
As clinic staff attempted to advise Johnson on how to reattach the muzzle, Chapo fought her the entire time, the report states.
Johnson said Chapo was frightened because he’d never been restrained by a muzzle before.
Veterinary doctors tried to calm the dog down and attempted to perform a quarantine exam a second time, but Chapo “was very agitated.” The report says Chapo “was physically fighting them and growling at them, and was unable to be restrained sufficiently for the exam to be safely performed.”