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Dog in custody after attack

The Adams County Sheriff’s Office is holding a dog in custody that is accused of attacking a special needs child in September even though the county’s courts have yet to set a hearing date.

The incident occurred on Sept. 30 when the dog’s 15-year-old owner allegedly sicced the dog on the special needs child as he was walking to his caregiver’s home.

The victim sustained bite wounds, and his mother took him to the emergency room where he was treated.

The sheriff’s office seized the dog as evidence under a county ordinance that requires dogs that have bitten humans to be impounded for 10 days, states a press release from animal rights group In Defense of Animals.

“On Oct. 21 and 22, Deputy Karen Ewing, Adams County Sheriff’s Department representative in animal-related cases, attempted to gain a signed motion for a hearing on the custody of the dog,” the press release sates. “Under Mississippi State Statute § 97-41-2. Seizure of mistreated animal, any dog used as a weapon, who could cause harm to a victim and also endanger the safety of the animal becomes property of the jurisdiction if the dog’s guardian does not seek a hearing or does not post bond for the care of the dog during the hearing process.”

Adams County Court Judge Walt Brown denied the motion, the press release states, because the case was to be heard by Juvenile Court on Oct. 29.

“In a shocking revelation, Deputy Ewing was informed that Juvenile Court Prosecutor Zack Jex dismissed the case and instructed Tamara Washington (the mother of the dog’s owner) to get her son’s dog back from the Sheriff’s Department,” the press release states. “Valencia Minor, the mother of the victim of the sadistic attack, advised Deputy Ewing that she had heard nothing from juvenile court. Minor stated that if the dog were returned to their neighborhood, she would kill the dog herself to protect her son.”

Ewing said she asked Justice Court Judge Eileen Maher for a motion hearing on Nov. 14 and the next day, Maher told Ewing she would not sign a motion hearing because she wasn’t sure that the county animal ordinance was legal, the press release said.

Maher did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment for this story.

Meanwhile, Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten said Friday the dog is still in the sheriff’s office’s custody and that Brown had given him a verbal assurance on Thursday that he would hold a hearing on the issue.

“He (Brown) told us to keep the dog in our custody, and he would get back with us to set up a hearing on it,” Patten said.

In Defense of Animals said the group stands behind Patten’s decision to hold the dog in custody.

“As it stands, the Adams County Sheriff’s Department is being asked to return a dog to the mother of a juvenile who clearly intended to harm a younger boy with special needs by siccing the dog on the boy. This entire affair is a travesty for the injured boy, the dog and our justice system,” said Doll Stanley, director of In Defense of Animals’ Justice for Animals Campaign. “The juvenile who sicced his dog on another youth should have been prosecuted for aggravated assault, and Chloe, the dog so vilely used in the attack, should be allowed to remain in the custody of Deputy Ewing under the auspices of the Adams County Sheriff’s Department.”