Citizen airs concerns after grandson bitten by dog

Published 6:00 am Thursday, February 23, 2006

Following an incident last June, an emotional grandmotherTuesday pleaded for enforcement of Brookhaven’s animal controlordinances while city officials said they are taking steps toaddress some “vagueness” in the law.

Speaking at last night’s board of aldermen meeting, Jan Ratcliffdiscussed the June 29 incident in which her 3-year-old grandsonChristopher was attacked in their West Congress Streetneighborhood.

“He was mauled by our neighbor’s dog,” said Ratcliff, who showedpictures of face, back and other injuries sustained by the boy.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Ratcliff said problems have worsened since the initialincident.

Ratcliff mentioned another case in which an older grandchild wasbitten on the ear, other times when the dog – an akita – was seenrunning loose, and some baby chicks that are being kept at theneighbor’s residence. She said some members of her family areallergic to the feathers.

“It smells, our noses still run and nothing’s been done,”Ratcliff said.

Mayor Bob Massengill pointed out that Ratcliff had missedseveral earlier scheduled appearances before the board. She saidsome personal illnesses prevented her from attending.

Ratcliff was able to meet in October with the mayor, Ward FiveAlderman D.W. Maxwell and City Attorney Joe Fernald.

City officials emphasized last night they had told Ratcliff tofile charges in city court against the neighbor and the dog, andthe case could be prosecuted. Ratcliff said she did not recall thatinstruction.

Ratcliff said the family moved from the home Jan. 24 out of fearof the dog.

“It makes me sad to have lived in Brookhaven 30 years and can’tget anything done. No justice for my grandson,” she said.

When he spoke, Police Chief Pap Henderson did not addressspecifics of the June incident.

“All we know is the child was bit and the dog was on a leash,”the chief said.

Following other complaints, the most recent on Feb. 15,Henderson said he told the dog’s owner it would be removed if it isseen running at large one more time.

“The dog is gone,” Henderson said.

Maxwell promised last night to introduce a new animal controlordinance to correct current rules that he said are “not clearenough.” Massengill said there is some “vagueness” in the law thatneeds to be addressed.