116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
An 8-year-old boy was hospitalized over the weekend after being attacked by two dogs in Springville.
The child was attacked Friday afternoon by a “mastiff-pit bull mix” and another “pit bull” mix, according to Maj. Chad Colston of the Linn County Sheriff’s Office.
The child was treated at UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids and transferred to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City.
“The child was bitten in the head, face, arms and legs. Some pretty gruesome injuries,” Colston told The Gazette on Tuesday.
Colston said it was apparent from the injuries that both dogs attacked the child, but the reason could not be determined, as the child and a friend were playing video games in the room alone at the time.
“Nobody (adult) saw it, and nobody knows exactly what happened,” Colston said. “We’ve got an 8-year-old child who is our only witness, and with the number of bites on the child, both dogs joined in.”
Colston said that as of Monday, the child still was hospitalized with severe bite wounds, but was generally improving.
Linn County doesn’t have a breed-specific animal ordinance, but it does have a “vicious animal ordinance” for “rare” cases like these, Colston said.
“The dogs, due to the nature of the attack, have been deemed vicious by ourselves, (Linn County) Public Health and Cedar Valley (Humane Society). It’s a collective thing,” he said.
Both dogs have been seized and placed in quarantine, one at a veterinary clinic and the other at the Cedar Valley Humane Society. Colston said the dogs’ owners have been cooperative.
“At this point, we believe it is really reasonable that these dogs should be declared vicious, and we’ve had no pushback from the owners after what happened,” Colston said. “The big unknown is what happened? Was the dog playing with a toy and the child tried to get the toy away from them? It’s hard to say, and it was a surprise to the owners. We’re thinking this is an unfortunate accident.”
Owners have a couple of days after being served a notice to appeal the vicious animal label. The notice was served Monday. If there is no appeal, the two dogs will be euthanized.
Breed ban controversies
The attack in Linn County comes amid a push in neighboring Benton County and some of its cities to repeal breed-ban ordinances.
Benton County and the cities of Keystone and Vinton have bans on pit bulls. Last month, owners of pit bulls in Keystone received verbal warning of the ban. In addition to the city ordinance, Benton County has its own ordinance that prohibits pit bulls and other dogs that have “the characteristics” of pit bulls.
The warnings came after a 2-year-old girl was attacked June 18 by a “stray or abandoned pit bull-style dog” in Keystone. The girl was taken to the hospital, and her father contacted authorities. Law enforcement took the dog to a veterinary clinic in Belle Plaine. An owner for the dog was never identified, and the animal was euthanized.
Benton County Sheriff Ron Tippett told The Gazette last month that the office did not give any official notices to residents, just a “verbal heads up” reminding them of the ordinance. He said there was no plan to remove the dogs.
The Keystone City Council didn’t take any action this month after residents pleaded to let them keep their dogs.
In Iowa, dozens of cities have breed-specific bans like Keystone’s, including Belle Plaine, Cascade, Centerville, Columbus Junction, Council Bluffs, Monticello, Ottumwa, Vinton, Walcott, Waukon and Winterset. But some cities have repealed breed-specific ordinances in recent years, including Sioux City, Muscatine, Maquoketa, Anamosa and Ely.
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