The state Court of Appeals took a bite out of Hood River County's outdated dog enforcement ordinance this week by freeing an animal on Death Row.
"Hood River County is going to have to conduct a wholesale revision of its dog control ordinance," said Robert Babcock, the lawyer for Mo Stevenson, the owner of "Kiss-Kiss."
Kiss-Kiss, the Chow-Shar Pei mix, was released from nearly 17 months of incarceration following the Oct. 3 court ruling that private citizens have no legal standing to enforce dog ordinances.
The county did not send legal counsel to argue in the case, but Judge Paul Crowley's facts about the May 27, 2000 attack involving Kiss-kiss were found to be accurate, according to Babcock. (Stevenson declined personal comment.)
Instead, arguments in the higher court centered on the origin of the complaint, which was filed by Susan Farber, who has since moved out of Hood River.
Based on her eyewitness account of Kiss-Kiss' conduct, Crowley had determined that the canine had acted in a "vicious and dangerous manner" and needed to be destroyed.
The case began when Farber was walking a leashed Golden Retriever named "Wags" for his owner, Rod Windle, about 100 yards from the Stevenson residence on Highline Drive.
Farber said Kiss-Kiss reportedly ran into the roadway and began mauling Wags, which immediately took a submissive posture and did not fight back. After she was forced to get help from the dog's owner to separate the two animals, Farber filed a complaint with the county.
According to veterinary reports, Wags' tail had to be amputated because of massive bite and puncture wounds to her hindquarters. However, in published reports, Stevenson contended that Wags lost her tail because her owner used a rusty hoe to break up the dogfight.
Although the county dog ordinance, which was adopted in June of 1979, allowed Farber to pursue the case, more recent state law led the appeals court to determine she had no authority for that action.
"In conclusion, although the county ordinance permits a private party to initiate a proceeding for violation of the dog control ordinances, (state law) specifically does not allow such initiation of violation proceedings in state circuit court," the appeals court wrote.
County counsel Teunis Wyers could not be reached for comment before press time.
The court vacated Crowley's decision to destroy Kiss-Kiss and Stevenson was allowed to pay the more than
$4,000 tab for his care and bring him home to Hood River without further sanctions.