Court to decide whether bulldog is dangerous

September 12, 2013

CANONSBURG – More than a month after an American bulldog named Zeus attacked a dachshund in Canonsburg, some residents told borough council Monday that the neighborhood is unsafe as long as they are sharing it with the animal.

Joe McCay, whose college-aged son owns the dachshund that was attacked, said he has not seen the bulldog outdoors. Yet he worries that it could escape from the Hutchinson Avenue home and jump over the owner’s six-foot fence, which he described as being an improper enclosure.

“Those dogs can jump six to seven feet,” McCay said. “I didn’t believe it. There’s YouTube videos; they’re catching balls 10 feet in the air.”

Whether or not Zeus should be considered a “dangerous dog” under state law will be determined by District Judge David Mark in a court hearing Oct. 1.

Sean Kenavey, Zeus’ owner, did not say how he would plead to the charge of harboring a dangerous dog. He said Thursday he is weighing options that would be the most beneficial for Zeus and all parties involved.

If Zeus is deemed a dangerous dog and Kenavey chooses to keep him, he would have to pay a $500 registration fee each year and post a bond or obtain $50,000 in liability insurance for injuries the dog could cause, according to the state Dog Law Enforcement Office. Zeus would also need to be confined in a proper enclosure, muzzled and leashed when outside, neutered and given a microchip implant.

Zeus has been required to follow some of these regulations ever since he broke loose from his enclosure and attacked a dachshund on the corner of Hawthorne Street and Belmont Avenue last month. Kenavey said workers in his yard were replacing a latch on his fence gate, which allowed the dog to escape.

The dachshund, named Sutton, required surgery for an abdomen puncture, lacerated liver and muscle damage. “A quarter-inch, he would have hit the chest cavity,” McCay said. “He would have been dead.”

Prior to that incident, Zeus was involved in an altercation with a greyhound named Gracie in Town Park in February. Gracie ran from the area and was missing for 12 days.

Sherry Sulkowski, Gracie’s owner, said she is also concerned that Zeus could attack again.

“We’re trying to establish what’s in the best interest of our neighborhood,” Sulkowski said. “It escalates. Each one of these incidents has escalated.”

Kenavey, who was not at the council meeting, said he has been following all state regulations. He said Zeus is kept indoors, but he puts a muzzle and leash on him when he needs to go outside.

“I don’t know what they want. We’re doing everything we’re told to do,” Kenavey said, adding that there is “no chance” Zeus could escape. “This has gotten so much press it’s out of control. It’s not like it’s a rabid dog waiting to jump on children and elderly people.”

Samantha Krepps, press secretary for the Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Dog Law Enforcement Office, said Kenavey is required to keep the dog in his possession and follow state law until the district judge determines the next step.

“We’re waiting for the court hearing, so (the dog) would be deemed dangerous or not,” Krepps said. “That’s what the court hearing is about.”

Emily Petsko joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in June 2013. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor's degree in journalism and global cultural studies.

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