Menacing dog captured, owner facing more fines

August 1, 2014

A pit bull which has allegedly killed more than 20 cats during a one-month span was captured by animal control officers Thursday morning.
Several formal complaints were filed by residents living on and around the 1600 block of San Carlos, prompting a summons to be issued by the Sweetwater Municipal Court to the dog's owner, David Pat Lewis.
Lewis was fined $1,800 after pleading guilty to charges stemming from the incidents Wednesday.
According to Sweetwater Police Chief Brian Frieda, more charges and fines could be levied against Lewis for failing to keep the dog contained since he appeared in court, which led to additional complaints from neighbors. Lewis could potentially face extra fines, depending on the court's ruling.
"The (municipal court) judge issued a court order to have the dog picked up," Frieda said. "There's been three more citations and five more complaints. (Lewis) is facing up to eight more charges at $500 per event."
Dog owners residing within city limits are typically compliant, Frieda said, but in recent years there has been an uptick in problematic owners.
"This is a whole new group of dog owners that thumb their noses at the court," the chief said. "I am happy the dog was picked up."
The pit bull — named Joshua — is estimated to be around two years old. Joshua could face euthanasia if the court deems it to be a threat.
Should Lewis meet with the court's demands, the dog could be returned to him.
"It's all up to the actions of the owner of the animal and the court," Frieda added. "He must comply with the state statutes and purchase $100,000 in insurance. The dog will remain at the shelter until the court orders its release or his time has expired."
Lewis could not be reached for comment, but stated earlier in the week, "I never meant for anyone to get hurt. He is a good dog to me."
Those who have encountered Joshua tell a different tale.
Cheri Roden didn't bother filing a formal complaint when the first of her cats was mauled by the dog, but after losing a second cat seven weeks later, she joined her neighbors in alerting city officials to the growing problem.
Another citizen, Carolyn Mullican, circulated a petition to have the issue addressed.
"I'm relieved the dog was caught," Roden said. "I feel bad for the dog, I'm upset that it had to come to this, but I am relieved for the neighborhood that it's been caught."
Roden said she was concerned for the area pets, but was also worried that if the dog saw a cat near a small child, he or she could have been injured in the frenzy.
Though Frieda said the dog is certainly responsible for some of the canine carnage pertaining to the deaths of cats, local animal control officials said it's unclear whether other dogs have been targeted by Joshua. They said that so far, there hasn't been any evidence of aggression toward humans.
The investigation into the matter is ongoing.

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