Alexandria woman files lawsuit against dog owner who attacked her | News

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ALEXANDRIA — As the Alexandria City Council continues to weigh options to strengthen its dog bite ordinance, a resident has filed a lawsuit against a neighbor who neighbors say let his dog loose at several times, resulting in alleged attacks by bystanders.

Jane Murray, 200 block of Chipaway Drive, filed a small claims lawsuit April 26 in Madison County Circuit Court against Stephen J. Smith, 100 block of West 11th Street. Jane Murray claims she was attacked while walking the family dog ​​along the perimeter of the nearby Alexandria Community Schools complex, across from Smith’s residence.

Additionally, Alexandria Police Chief Mike Montgomery confirmed that his department filed a complaint on April 18 against Smith for failing to restrain his pit bull, which is the subject of numerous complaints from residents. That case is scheduled for a hearing at 5 p.m. on May 24 in Elwood City Court.

Jane Murray could not be reached for comment, but her husband, Tom Murray, attended the town council meeting on Monday and said she was seeking unspecified damages. Murray had told the council on April 18 that Smith reimbursed him and his wife for veterinary bills resulting from injuries to their dog.

However, Tom Murray said his wife’s complaint did not include any cease and desist request regarding Smith’s behavior in relation to the dog’s restraint in the future.

“The problem is that the dog is treated as his property under the law, so we can’t do that, which is why the board is considering an order,” he said.

Smith could not be reached for comment and, according to court records, has yet to file a response to Murrays’ lawsuit.

The case is due to be heard on June 1 at 2 p.m.

In the meantime, Anderson City Attorney Jeff Graham presented council on Monday with a potential one-bite ordinance modeled after one used in communities nationwide.

” It’s a good start. As you can see, that solves some of the problems,” he said. “Alexandria would definitely be a leader in Madison County.”

A similar order in Alexandria would likely not be challenged because the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled it was an appropriate use of police power, Graham said.

“This order has already gone all the way to the top,” he said.

Graham said the model order also alleviates her fear of dogs being considered property by providing for an appeal process. Courts generally don’t like to deprive people of their property, he said.

“This new order provides a procedure by which an owner has the option of asking more than one body to review their situation.”

Montgomery said that even if an order is put in place, it may take some time to implement due to a need for equipment and training within his department. He also pointed out that the new order could not be applied retroactively.

We would have a lot of relief with this order,” he said.

Incidents such as those allegedly involving Smith’s dog are not uncommon, Montgomery said.

“We have a very long enforcement record of our animal ordinance with dogs off the leash.”

To follow Rebecca R. Bibbs on Twitter at @RebeccaB_THB, or call 765-640-4883.

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