Arab City Officials, Health Department Speak On Actions Following Dog Attack

ARAB, Ala. (WHNT) — The Marshall County Health Department is monitoring at least 10 dogs after they attacked a woman.

Arab Police say a woman tried to break up a fight between at least 10 of her son’s dogs at a home near Highway 69 on Friday. That’s when the dogs turned on her.

Witnesses tell WHNT News 19 the scene was horrific. It’s what followed the attack that has neighbors, witnesses, and area residents calling for change.

Arab Assistant Police Chief Shane Washburn says the department has a standard protocol in cases like this.  After officers fill out the report, it is sent to the county’s health department.

“Once we make the referral to the health department, they make the decision if the dogs need to be quarantined,” Assistant Chief Washburn says.

Officers then enforce the decision made by the health department.

Over the weekend, officers ordered the dogs to be kept in a secure location, like the owner’s home, until the department could make a decision about where the dogs will be quarantined.

Since the dogs have owners, the county health department has the decision that the dogs be quarantined for 10 days in the owner’s home or a veterinarian’s office.

Marie Stephens with the Marshall County Health Department says because the dogs were not up to date on their vaccinations, the department is ordering them to be kept at a veterinarian’s office for the duration of the quarantine.

Stephens says because the dogs have an owner and are not strays, that’s their only option.

“The health department does not ever issue an order to have an animal put down,” Stephens says. “We do advise, in the cases of a stray animal or a wild animal, it is advised that the animal be put down and tested to see if it is a carrier of rabies. If it is an owned animal then the owner has the option of quarantining the animal rather than having it put down and tested.”

Stephens says once that quarantine is over and if the dogs are found to be of good health and show no symptoms of rabies, they will be allowed to go back with their owner.

Arab Police say this protocol has been in place for years and there has never been an issue with it.

Officers tell WHNT News 19 the department has never received a complaint about the dogs prior to Friday.

Neighbors and area residents say they don’t feel safe with the protocol for this type of situation in place and say they would like to see it changed.

Monday afternoon, Arab Mayor Bob Joslin spoke with the city’s legal department about the protocols in place. He says he’s told the police department acted in accordance with the state laws.

Mayor Joslin says this situation was different because it was on private property, but the city council is looking into any measures that may prevent a situation like this from happening in the future on public property.

Mayor Joslin says he has been in contact with several concerned citizens and neighbors near the home where the attack happened.

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