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Health board upholds animal control ruling
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A local man has two weeks to be in compliance with state law after the Dawson County Health Board upheld a decision by animal control that classifies his 2-year-old Cane Corso Mastiff as vicious.

During a special called meeting May 7, the five-panel board unanimously agreed with the assessment made by animal control officers in March.

State code regulates that a dog can be classified as vicious if it inflicts serious injury on a person or causes serious injury to a person resulting from reasonable attempts to escape from the dog's attack.

Brian Womack appeared before the board hoping officials would reverse animal control's decision, based on his testimony that the family had put the dog away and told guests not to open the door to the room where the dog was being kept.

"The dog was purposely put away in containment," he said.

Womack was given 14 days to be in compliance with the board's ruling, which requires him to enclose an area for the dog and post signs declaring the canine vicious on the property.

He must also register the dog with the county, have the dog micro-chipped and provide proof of liability insurance in the amount of $50,000.

According to reports, the dog repeatedly bit a 15-year-old guest at the party on Chestatee View Drive on March 21 after the teen opened the door to the room.

Dawson County Planning Director David McKee said the teen suffered multiple broken bones and lacerations in the attack.

Animal control officials investigated the case and determined the incident met criteria to classify the dog as vicious.

Womack, who filed an appeal of the ruling to the health board on April 15, said the board should take the circumstances that led to the attack into consideration, though Chairman Larry Anderson said it was not the board's duty to determine why it happened.

"This is an issue of what happened, versus why it happened," he said.

After a brief closed discussion, the five-panel board voted unanimously to uphold animal control's decision, a matter Womack believes is unfair.

"I do feel bad for the girl, but I don't feel like it was fair to me, because they didn't even consider the particular circumstances," he said.