VERNON – Vernon City Council held an emergency special session at the request of City Attorney Michelle Tagert Wednesday, May 28, after a recent incident involving Public Works Director Ronald Woods open firing a personal weapon in a residential area after being bitten by an alleged vicious dog.
“We are here because even though the policy states that the public works employee is to handle animal control, it does not state how vicious animals are to be treated,” said Tagart. “He has had no training or guidance on how to deal with a vicious animal. If there was a misfire or if someone were hit by a stray bullet, then that would have changed this situation dramatically.”
According to paperwork submitted by Woods, he was responding to a call about a vicious dog,. Upon arrival on the scene, he found a gray bulldog “barking and snapping." He knocked on the door of the residence the dog was near but received no answer. The dog followed Woods as he continued to another resident’s house. There, he was told the dog belonged to someone who was in Tampa, and the resident requested something “be done about the dog.”
Woods reported he then crossed the yard to speak with Glenn Cheffield, who said the dog attacked him, as well as two other individuals. Woods was on his way back to the truck when the dog bit him. Woods says that’s when he went back to his personal truck, took out his personal gun and picked up another employee before returning to the scene where the dog was.
Woods reported when they got out of the truck the dog “charged” at them, and he felt it necessary to open fire. He shot three times in the dog’s direction before the dog ran off. The employees were unable to find the dog, and Woods went back to City Hall where he was instructed to go to the hospital to seek treatment for the dog bite.
“The only thing I see wrong is that he went back to his personal vehicle, grabbed a personal weapon and returned to the scene without notifying the Washington County Sheriff’s Office,” said Councilman Joey Brock.
Tagert stated if there was a policy in place for employee handling of a vicious animal, then there would have been something for Woods to refer.
After much discussion, the council agreed to have Tagert draft a policy for employee training and procedure for handling potentially dangerous animals, as well as a policy about employees and firearms, to be brought before the council during Monday night’s workshop for further discussion.
Council agreed until a policy is put into place and employees are trained in that policy, the city will rely on Washington County Animal Control to handle any other animal issues.
Council also stated no disciplinary action would be taken against Woods.