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Published: 11/7/2012

Toledo woman contests warden’s classification of Duke being ‘dangerous dog’

BY TANYA IRWIN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Carrisa Curry, shown with her son Kaleb Smart, 2, is appealing the Lucas County dog warden's designation of her dog Duke as dangerous. Carrisa Curry, shown with her son Kaleb Smart, 2, is appealing the Lucas County dog warden's designation of her dog Duke as dangerous.
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Ohio’s new dangerous dog law is getting a workout in Toledo.

Carissa Curry of 1505 Hirzel St., whose dog Duke bit a Toledo man Aug. 7, is contesting her pet’s label as a dangerous dog.

Under the new law, which went into effect on May 22, a “dangerous” dog is one that has, unprovoked, injured a person; killed another dog; or gotten loose three or more times. A “vicious” dog is one that has seriously injured or killed a person. A “nuisance” dog, the least-severe of the three, has, unprovoked, approached a person in a menacing fashion while off its own property.

Ms. Curry, via her lawyer, David C. Bruhl, has filed an objection to Magistrate David E. Smith’s Sept. 17 decision upholding the Lucas County dog warden’s classification. Ms. Curry filed an appeal of the dog classification Aug. 17, claiming the man who was bit was trying to break into her home. The case is now before Toledo Municipal Court Judge Amy Berling and a hearing is scheduled for Friday at noon.

At issue is whether Duke, who Ms. Curry says is an American bulldog mix and who Dog Warden Julie Lyle has labeled as a boxer mix, was provoked.

Whether Duke is designated as dangerous — which is a civil court decision — could affect the outcome of criminal charges Ms. Curry faces related to the incident. Ms. Curry was in municipal court Tuesday before Judge Timothy Kuhlman for a pretrial conference on charges of failing to immunize Duke against rabies and failing to keep him confined or restrained on her premises to avoid escape.

The charges are considered fourth-degree misdemeanors because of Duke’s dangerous designation. However, Mr. Bruhl argues that Duke had not yet received the designation at the time of the incident and therefore it should be handled as a minor misdemeanor, which carries a lower fine and no possible jail time. The fourth-degree misdemeanor could carry a jail sentence up to 30 days.

Ms. Curry alleges that the man who Duke bit was trying to break into her house. However, the Toledo Police Department has not filed charges against the 50-year-old man, who claims he was walking past Ms. Curry’s house when the bite occurred. He was bit on the rear left thigh area, according to the dog warden’s report.

“My dog is not dangerous,” Ms. Curry said. “He is a wonderful, amazing, and loving family member. He simply did what any good dog would do, he protected his family and his home. He should be rewarded for that, not punished.”

A police spokesman said no one witnessed the attempted break-in, which Ms. Curry did not report until Aug. 16. The issue of the break-in has not been a factor in any of the decisions thus far.

Duke was seized by the dog warden and held for a 10-day quarantine before being released to Ms. Curry. He is in no danger of euthanasia, but Ms. Curry is appealing the designation because owning a dangerous dog means she must carry a $100,000 liability insurance policy that will cost more than $1,000 a year.

Dangerous dogs also must wear special tags, be confined by a fence, be spayed or neutered, and be microchipped. Owners also must post signs that a dangerous dog lives there.

Contact Tanya Irwin at: tirwin@theblade.com or 419-724-6066.



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