Bettendorf Dog Owner Owns Up To Unreported Bite - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Bettendorf Dog Owner Owns Up To Unreported Bite

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The man police say left the scene of a dog bite speaks out for the first time. This stems an from incident on the Mark Twain Elementary School playground area. Police say a 13-year old boy was bit on the arm by a German Shepherd that was not on a leash. The dog's owner, 46-year-old Kirk Young, says he didn't come forward because he was worried the city would put the dog down. He now faces charges and the dog, Journey, has been deemed vicious. He has just days to get rid of the dog. Young says he was there when it happened. He says he didn't see anyone else at the park when he arrived, so he took the dog off the leash. In Bettendorf, dogs must be on a leash, or under control and at heel in public. A specific ordinance says they must be leashed at all times on school properties. Young says he accepts the penalties, taking full responsibility.

"There was nobody there, and it was cold and windy," he said. "There wasn't a car in the parking lot." 

Then, he says, the boy apparently popped out from a small stairwell. That's when Journey struck.

"They were maybe 10, 15 feet apart when they'd seen each other, and that wasn't enough time," he said. "He says, 'No, no. I'm okay,' and I said, 'Well, let me see it man, ' and he unzips his sleeve and shows me the hole in his arm. I was like, all right. I said, 'hang tight.' I said, 'I'll be right back.'"

Reports say he didn't come back. Young, who lives a third of a mile away, says he took the dogs home and came back later.

"Came home, took the dogs, went back and he was gone, so, I didn't look any further. I didn't report it," he said. "By that time, I figured he went home, and I could have came home and, you know, called the authorities or whatever, but I just, I freaked out. I was scared they were going to put both of my dogs down."

As time went on, the situation escalated. The boy and his family were unaware of the dog's vaccination records. Officials say rabies treatments would have cost around $7,000. Finally, police say they got several tips from people about an owner with two German Shepherds. Young says he has owned this type of dog for 35 years.
     
"From the ones I've raised, from start to finish, have all died of natural causes," he said. "No bites, no nothing."

He got Journey two years ago. The Bettendorf playground incident isn't the dog's first bite. He ran loose the first day they got him.

"And then, they had to go rescue him off the wing damn, and that was the beginning of it all right there," Young said.

He also bit a jogger apparently dressed in black at night. Young says Journey is just a big dog who gets spooked.

"He doesn't deserve the bad rap," he said. "He's just being protective."

Young says he takes responsibility for the bite at Mark Twain.

"I was irresponsible with them, and they don't want them in the city of Bettendorf anymore," he said. "I can live with that."
     
He says Journey will be gone by tomorrow, off to Arkansas, to live with Young's eldest daughter. Neighbors are reacting to the decision that the dog needs to be removed from the city.

"I think it's too harsh," Scott Hartenhoff said. "I really do, but the guy should have came forward."

Hartenhoff says it "would be a different story" if a dog continuously bites people.

"Then I would say, then they need to get, yeah, he needs to get rid of him," he said.

"I also think it's the owner's responsibility that, to come forward with the situation," Bettendorf resident Vera Blevins said.

But what qualifies a dog as vicious? Authorities say it's determined on a case-by-case basis. In East Moline, it's any dog who bites or attacks unprovoked on public or private property, with the exception of an attack on an adult trespasser on its owner's property. The same applies in Moline. In Davenport, it can be declared vicious even if it attacks on its owners property. In Bettendorf, the term can apply for an attack posture. In Rock Island, it's based on written complaint or substantial evidence. You can find more details on these policies by visiting city websites.
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