Court

CLINTON — A civil citation has been dismissed in connection with a dangerous animal accusation.

Seventh Judicial District Magistrate Judge Bert Watson has dismissed the civil citation that accused Ashley Greene of owning a dangerous animal. The citation was dismissed with costs assessed to the city of Clinton.

Watson in his ruling states that in March 2017, Greene was good friends with Holly Harrison. They both had children of about the same age and the Harrison family had a dog named Bailey.

Greene and her family at the end of the day March 15, adopted a dog named Emmett from the Clinton Humane Society. Greene contacted Harrison after the Greene family had left the Clinton Humane Society with the dog. Harrison suggested that Greene bring Emmett over to the Harrison home. Greene, her children and Emmett went to the Harrison residence around 6 p.m.

The ruling continues that Emmett bit Harrison’s 14-month-old son, who suffered severe injuries and initially was taken to Mercy Medical Center ― Clinton. Greene and the children stayed at the Harrison residence until police officers arrived. Officers took Emmett back to the Clinton Humane Society. There was no evidence Emmett had bitten anyone or acted aggressively toward any person except for the biting incident on March 15.

The ruling states Greene was charged with a violation of a city ordinance, which states it is unlawful for any person to harbor or keep a dangerous animal within the city. The city ordinance states an animal is deemed dangerous when it has bitten or aggressively attacked any person or other animal without provocation either on public or private property. The two issues for the court to decide was when Emmett became a dangerous animal and if Greene harbored or kept Emmett after he became a dangerous animal.

The court in the ruling found Emmett did not become a dangerous animal until the moment after he bit the juvenile male. This is supported by the definition of a dangerous animal in the city ordinance, which is expressed in the past tense. The ruling states that although the city ordinance does not require a person to have knowledge a dog is dangerous there must be proof the dog is a dangerous animal under the city ordinance. The ruling states that in this case there was no proof that Emmett was a dangerous animal until he bit the juvenile male.

“Emmett showed no aggressive tendencies at the Clinton Human Society,” the order states. “There was no evidence that Emmett was a dangerous dog before he arrived at the Clinton Humane Society. Until after Emmett bit the juvenile male, he was an ordinary dog, and it was not illegal to keep or harbor him. The court finds that there is insufficient evidence that Emmett was a dangerous animal under paragraph one of the definition of dangerous animal under city ordinance 91.001 until after he bit the juvenile male.”

The ruling states the second question for the court was to decide whether Greene harbored or kept Emmett after he bit the juvenile male. The ruling says the only time period relevant in this case in determining whether Greene harbored or kept Emmett is the time between Emmett biting the juvenile male and the time that Emmett was taken away by the police.

Emmett bit the juvenile male around 6:45 p.m. A Clinton Police Department officer arrived at the Harrisons’ home around 6:54 p.m. The officer examined Emmett, who was in the bedroom, and then, at Greene’s request, took him to the Clinton Humane Society. The officer did not have to immediately attend to the juvenile male since he had already been taken to Mercy Medical Center by ambulance. The ruling states there was no evidence that Greene was in possession or control of Emmett after the officer took him to the Clinton Humane Society.

“The court finds that Ms. Greene did not harbor or keep Emmett in violation of the city ordinance,” the ruling states. “The court believes that this interpretation is consistent with the intent of the Clinton City Council to allow people to keep non-dangerous dogs but not dogs that pose a hazard to the public. In this case, Emmett went from a non-dangerous dog to a dangerous dog in the blink of an eye. There was a sudden emergency which Ms. Greene handled reasonably and responsibly.”

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