A woman appeared before the City of Shelbyville’s Board of Works and Public Safety Friday afternoon to plead for the return of her dog.
A pit bull named Chaos attacked Shelbyville police officer Curt Schuman on Aug. 8 when Schuman was dispatched to Sunset Park in Shelbyville for a wellness check on individuals in the area.
Schuman walked up to a pair of individuals near the river when Chaos emerged from one of the tents nearby and attacked the officer, who was forced to leave the scene and seek medical treatment for a hand injury.
Animal control took custody of the dog and a hearing was held at the Aug. 17 Board of Works meeting to determine the dog’s fate. The owner of Chaos, Jennifer Mays, was not present for the hearing.
With no one to speak for the dog, which had been in animal control’s custody previously, and with visits from two Board of Works members that did not go well, Chaos was deemed “vicious.”
Citing failure to provide proper notification of the hearing, Mays was able to get a second hearing scheduled, which happened Friday. Represented by local attorney Warren Good, Mays took full responsibility for Chaos not being properly leashed and expressed remorse for the officer who was injured.
Mays has known Chaos, an approximately 8-year-old, medium-sized pit bull, for nearly four years and been his full-time caretaker for the last three years. She explained she has had no incidents with the dog, that admittedly has special needs, and that he was only protecting her from what appeared to be a stranger coming toward her.
The dog has now been at the shelter for 54 days, according to Keith Barrett of the Shelbyville/Shelby County Animal Shelter, and has warmed up to him, but is still aggressive to strangers.
Barrett does not believe Chaos can be adopted “because of his temperament” but would not label him “vicious.”
Mays believes Chaos has separation anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder, an affliction she suffers from as well. The dog and owner are constantly together or he is left with a caretaker when she cannot be around.
Mays explained she walks Chaos around the city without incident. He has been around children and strangers without problems.
Good was allowed to question Schuman, animal control officers, Mays and several people who are around the dog on a regular basis.
Chaos was not properly vaccinated at the time of the incident, which prompted cause for concern as well as what kind of living environment Mays will be able to provide if Chaos is returned.
Mays stated that she is currently living with her mother at a Shelbyville residence with a fenced-in backyard.
Schuman expressed concern that the environment would be safe to insure no further incidents.
“Can she assure this will not happen again … or a worse incident?” said Schuman, who missed approximately two weeks of work as a result of the injury.
The Board of Works and Public Safety consists of three individuals – mayor Tom DeBaun, Bob Williams and David Finkel. DeBaun had a prior commitment and was not at Friday’s hearing.
Finkel and Williams consulted with city attorney Jennifer Meltzer during the meeting Friday and agreed that a residence check needed to happen before a final decision could be made.
Animal control will visit where Mays is currently living and will report back to the Board of Works at its weekly meeting Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. at City Hall.
Finkel also wanted Mays to consent to getting Chaos properly vaccinated and provide information on who will care for the dog when she is not around.
“We don’t want to see another victim,” said Finkel.