Western Iowa town to dog: Git, git outta town City holds first-ever ‘vicious dog’ appeal hearing
Like a marshal in a dusty Old West village, city officials from the western Iowa town of Carroll issued a lawbreaker an ultimatum.
Leave town in three days. Or else.
The bad guy in this story: an 18-month-old Chesapeake Bay retriever named Lambeau (after the iconic Green Bay, Wisconsin, football stadium beloved by its owners).
In the first-of-its-kind hearing at City Hall in Carroll — a pooch trial, if you will — Council members last week heard the case of Lambeau, a dog that police there defined as a vicious animal after it attacked and bit the chest of a passerby, 20-year-old Broderick Swantek, sending him to the local hospital emergency room for treatment.
Swantek, who was walking to work as a baker at Dunkin Donuts, said the wound bled into his shirt. The dog’s rabies shot had expired in February, but Swantek said he had no further health issues after the attack.
The dog’s owners, Jacob and Kate Landon, challenged the police department’s vicious ruling before the city council.
“I love my dog too much,” Kate Landon told us before defending Lambeau at the podium.
The City Council voted 5-0 to affirm the police department’s assessment of the dog.
According to City Code, the Landons received three days to remove the dog from town, something Kate Landon told this newspaper she would do.
Kate Landon sought to portray the episode with Swantek on the sidewalk in front of her house as a one-time incident.
No one testifying suggested Swantek did anything to provoke the dog.
Police say when they did a welfare check on the Landons’ house, the dog exhibited aggressive and threatening behavior.
“Jacob held him back and even held his mouth shut,” said local police officer Alex Klever.
Klever said the dog lunged at him as he entered the Landons’ house announced.
“When I walked into the room, it came at me,” he said.
Klever added, “I didn’t want to get bit that day, so I didn’t pet it.”
Kate Landon said Lambeau had no prior history of violence. Mopeds spooked the dog, which stretched a retractable leash from Landon’s mother, Pat Phillips, who was visiting from Muscatine, and watching the dog as the Landons vacationed in Las Vegas, Katie Landon said.
What’s more, the dog’s reaction to a police officer in the family home is a natural one, Landon said.
Council members, after asking questions, voted to back up Klever’s call.
“I’m having a hard time understanding why she could not keep that dog under control,” said Councilwoman Carolyn Siemann.
Mayor Eric Jensen said retractable leashes don’t work well.
Swantek has mixed emotions about the dog that bit him and the city council’s decision.
“I think it’s fair,” Swantek said. “But I still feel bad for the dog and its owner.”
When asked if Swantek had been holding a carry permit and armed with a firearm, Carroll Police Chief Brad Burke said police likely would have considered use of a gun on the dog self-defense.
Burke went on to say city policy on removal of the dog may not go far enough, as the vicious animal can now jeopardize people somewhere else.
“Unfortunately, the information is probably not going to follow it,” Burke said.
Burke said if he were Lambeau’s owner, he’d put the dog down.
Swantek’s father, Philip Swantek, who has a doctorate in swine science from North Dakota State, offered a different take after the meeting. He said the dog may get a new leash on life outside of town.
“In a different environment, it could behave differently,” he said.
Carroll City Attorney David Bruner said the Landons have 72 hours from the time they are issued an order to remove the dog from the city limits. If the Landons don’t, police can seize Lambeau and remove it from town or kill it.
Burke said he believes this was the first vicious-dog hearing in the history of the city. CV
Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa newspaperman who resides in Carroll. He and his family own and publish newspapers in Carroll, Jefferson and other neighboring communities.