CLINTON — It was Christmas week, and Kelsey Beswick's golden retriever Daisy was outside of the family's rural Fulton, Illinois home.
Because of conflicting stories, it is uncertain whether Daisy had attacked a neighbor or one of his multiple small dogs after Daisy escaped from a fenced-in yard at the Diamond Road home. But in the end, Daisy ended up being shot twice by the neighbor. A GoFundMe account set up by the Beswicks is seeking $5,000 to cover veterinary costs incurred as a result of the shooting.
According to Whiteside County Sheriff Kelly Wilhelmi, the incident was reported to the sheriff's department and is listed on an information log, but no charge or report was filed because the neighbor claimed the dog had attacked him and at least one of his small dogs.
According to a report filed by the shooting neighbor on Jan. 2, Kelsey's two dogs were on the attack. The man reported that after getting his dog inside, the two golden retrievers became aggressive toward him and would not leave the property. Terry Beswick, Kelsey's father, disputes that, saying one dog was in the house at the time.
In the Whiteside County Code of Ordinances, section six, the animal control program was established to protect the county from rabies and control dangerous and vicious animals within the county.
Wilhelmi said that because the neighbor stated to police that the dog was attacking his pet and then began charging at him, no law was broken and no charges have been filed. The dog is alive, but injured.
Across the Mississippi River in Iowa, domesticated animals that are at large and encroaching on neighboring property may not be shot at or otherwise injured unless that animal poses a threat to those on the property.
Steve Cundiff with the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office said unless a dog or other pet causes harm to livestock, another pet or a person, the property owner does not have the right to hurt that animal.
“It has to be a threat to a person, a threat to an animal,” Cundiff said.
“You have to be careful,” he said, as the pet is someone’s property.
In Clinton, it is unlawful to keep a dangerous animal within city limits unless the owner agrees to confine the animal and/or license it pursuant to Chapter 91 of Clinton’s municipal code. Dangerous animals are to be confined in an occupied home, or in secure adequate shelter. The dog cannot be chained to an inanimate object.
Clinton’s code of ordinances defines a dangerous animal as one previously adjudicated by the courts when the animal had bitten or aggressively attacked a person or animal without provocation; has a history, tendency, disposition to attack or cause injury to a person or animal; approaches or displays dangerous and terrorizing behavior with animals or people; has been trained to fight animals or trained as animal bait; or it is trained, not by law enforcement, to attack people on command.
It is unlawful for a person to refuse or fail to inform authorities when someone has been bitten by an animal.
It is at the discretion of the animal control officer, in this case Clinton police, to declare an animal dangerous. If a dangerous animal is found not to be confined as required under Clinton code, it may be seized and impounded.
As far as animals that have the appearance of being mistreated, such as being left outside too long, that is a police issue, not an individual’s. Cundiff said a person who believes he or she has witnessed alleged abuse must always call the police/sheriff’s department rather than taking their own action – such as taking the animal from the home.