Thursday, January 8, 2009

Pet Owner Faces Charges After Bicyclist Injured By Dogs

(not picture of actual rider)

By Amy HunterReporter / Bristol Herald CourierPublished: January 6, 2009
A Blountville, Tenn., woman has been charged with allowing two dogs to run loose after police said they ran into a bicyclist, who was seriously injured.
Barbara Pearce was cycling with a small group on Barger Hollow Road between 1-2 p.m. on Dec. 27 when two dogs struck the bike she was riding, said Sullivan County Sheriff’s Capt. Keith Elton.
Pearce was hospitalized at Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport, Tenn., with multiple injuries, including a broken collar bone, broken shoulder blade, bruised brain, seven broken ribs and a broken hand, Elton said. She was released Friday, according to a hospital spokesman.
The dog owner, who Elton would not identify until the arrest warrant has been served, faces felony charges of allowing the dogs to run loose; each carries a maximum sentence of one to three years in prison, he said.
Rick Heppert, an officer in the Kingsport Bicycle Association, said it’s extremely rare for charges to be filed in connection with crashes between dogs and bicycles, which he said are the most common danger to cyclists in the area.
“I’ve been at several scenes before where cyclists saw dogs take someone down and officers said they couldn’t issue charges because they didn’t see anything,” he said.Heppert said he does not know Pearce, but he has heard a great deal about the incident from the biking community.
“This [owner] had been warned before and the dog was still out there, the police said,” Heppert said. Heppert explained that new legislation was approved more than a year ago that changed the penalties for owners of loose dogs. Now, he said, any owner whose dog is loose can be fined $50, regardless of how the dog gets out, he said.
And if a loose dog causes any personal injury, Heppert explained, the new penalty is a $2,500 fine.