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Vicious dogs that killed 16 cats won’t be killed

A Lincoln County justice court judge sentenced two vicious dogs to death last week for mauling 16 of their neighbors’ 32 cats.

Friday, he learned the dogs – a German Shepherd and pit bull belonging to Caitlyn Smith and her uncle Eddie Smith – don’t have to be put down.

The case involving Jimmy and Belinda “Dinki” Davis, who owned the cats, was the first to be tried in Lincoln County under the recently enacted ordinance.

A group of concerned residents in June 2014 asked the county Board of Supervisors  to implement an animal nuisance law to help protect citizens and property.

Lincoln County Justice Court Judge Joe Portrey had no prior experience with the ordinance and said Friday he misinterpreted its wording.

According to the ordinance, if the dog that has been determined to be in violation has not been “previously designated” by the court as a “vicious dog,” then the dog’s owner must pay a set fine and follow a number of specified steps.

In part, the dog must be securely confined at all times, muzzled when off the owner’s property, have a microchip implanted by a veterinarian and be registered with the sheriff’s office.

If a dog that has already been designated by the court as “vicious” again behaves in a manner that is found to violate the county ordinance, the owner faces a stiffer fine and the dog must then be humanely euthanized. The owner may appeal this ruling to the Lincoln County Circuit Court.

Portrey has called a hearing for Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. in Lincoln County Justice Court to rescind the former ruling, explain to all parties the wording and meaning of the ordinance and to hand down a new ruling. All parties were notified Friday.

Dinki Davis is worried the dogs could still cause injuries to pets and people. “It does really upset me, but there’s nothing you can do about the law. I do hope that something can be done to change this,” she said.

She has vowed to make sure all the requirements of the law are followed. “I am going to try to make sure that each and every one of those are followed to protect other people or animals,” she said.

According to Davis, the goal is safety. “I know they probably don’t believe their animals would hurt somebody,” she said, “because they are their animals, and I understand that. I’m just going to keep praying for peace about this.”