Police in Minneapolis, Minnesota were forced to shoot twin pit bulls, whose owners were identified as Otello Pitts and Gidget Nicks, after a mail carrier suffered personal injuries in a vicious attack in July and the dogs rushed toward the responding officers. But the consequences may not be over for the owners.
The dogs have been posthumously declared dangerous by animal control officials, meaning that under beefed-up ordinances that have been credited with a sharp reduction in serious dog bites in Minneapolis, Pitts and Nicks could be barred from owning a dog for five years if they ever have another dog that is declared dangerous.
According to officials, the five-year prohibition has been imposed on four dog owners in the city within the past 18 months.
But that’s not the only problem for Pitts and Nicks. On August 13, city prosecutors filed what they say is the most serious criminal charge possible against the two: a misdemeanor charge of “harm caused by a dog” against each. The charge carries a penalty of a fine of up to $1,000 and a prison sentence of up to 90 days.
Administrative citations were also issued against the couple by the city accusing the couple of failure to license the dogs, failure to keep them on leashes, and failure to protect the public from attack. The citations carry potential fines of $375.
But there’s a twist in the case, as the city could have difficulty locating the couple. As of August 13, there was an eviction notice, dated August 6, posted on the residence where the attack occurred for failure to pay rent. A “Beware of Dog” sign lay crumpled beside the front steps.
According to Minnesota state law, landlords must be notified if a tenant’s dog is declared dangerous, because a rental owner knowledgeable about an aggressive dog becomes legally liable for it.
According to the city’s definition, a serious bite is one that inflicts a laceration of at least one inch or multiple skin punctures.