The history of dog court in New Hanover County
In 2008, New Hanover County Animal Control Services declared 92 dogs potentially dangerous.
But technically it’s not animal control making the initial decision about what to do with those dogs, it’s a group of volunteers appointed by the New Hanover County Board of Health.
“They are folks who have worked with animals for a great deal of time, and they make their determination without any bias to knowing anything about any of the people or the animals involved,” said Dr. Jean McNeil of NHC Animal Control.
Potentially dangerous dogs have to adhere to dangerous dog guidelines unless the owner appeals to dog court and wins. Of the 92 dogs deemed dangerous dogs in 2008, there were 33 appeals.
When an appeal is filed, the dog’s owner and victim both have to attend dog court. Of the 33 cases appealed, 11 dangerous dog decisions were upheld.
In other words, the dog was found guilty of being dangerous, a verdict that does not always sit well with the dog’s owners.
“It upset me real bad. I trained him for nine years every day of my life and they’re in there and they act like, all because he bit a sheriff, that’s right all because of a sheriff,” said John Williams who lost a dog court decision.
Eleven dog court cases were dismissed last year at the victim’s request, or because the victim did not showing up at the dangerous dog appeals hearing.
The panelists ruled not guilty on the remaining 11 cases in 2008.
John Boozer, Joyce Bradley and Whitney Doremus all are dog lovers. They act as the jury, or you could say dog court judges, and they each bring a different perspective to dangerous dog appeals court.
Typically a dog court victim is an adult, but it can sometimes be another animal or a child. That’s why these panelists take their volunteer duty seriously. Brunswick County also holds dangerous dog appeals court, but it’s run quite differently. We take a look at that, tomorrow.
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