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DeKalb woman troubled by dogs running loose

Published: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 11:32 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Danielle Guerra – dguerra@shawmedia.com)
Neka, a 10-year-old lab mix service dog, nudges owner Tammy Sherer's lower leg, who is in wheelchair because of cerebral palsy, in her apartment Wednesday. Sherer says Neka, who she's relient on for tasks in her apartment and in public, was threatened by dogs while on a walk a week ago and has a history of being hurt by off-leash dogs. Neka is trained to be passive and to not fixate on other dogs to better serve Sherer and her needs.
Caption
(Danielle Guerra – dguerra@shawmedia.com)
Neka, a 10-year-old lab mix service dog, retrives a phone for owner Tammy Sherer, 54, who is in wheelchair because of cerebral palsy, in her apartment Wednesday in DeKalb. Sherer says Neka, whom she's relient on for tasks in her apartment and in public, was threatened by dogs while on a walk a week ago and has a history of being hurt by off-leash dogs. Neka is trained to be passive and to not fixate on other dogs to better serve Sherer and her needs.

DeKALB – After five dog incidents in the past eight years, Tammy Sherer is asking DeKalb residents to follow leash laws for her and her service dog's safety.

Sherer is wheelchair bound because of cerebral palsy. She said that in the eight years she has had her Labrador and golden retriever mix, Neka, has been threatened by other dogs five times. The most recent confrontation occurred last week, when Sherer's personal assistant and her daughter were walking Neka.

The incidents have caused Neka, who Sherer said is normally a calm dog, to be more aggressive, and he now wears a head collar during walks. Still, two unleashed Chihuahuas ran toward the trio about 5 p.m. July 9 from the front lawn of their Leonard Street home and barked at them, causing Neka to feel threatened, police said.

Although no one was injured in the incident, Sherer said her personal assistant had to stand between the Chihuahuas and Neka to protect him.

"Her words were, 'Tammy, we got attacked,' " Sherer said.

Police have since issued a warning to the dogs' owner, who was not there during the incident. Another incident could result in an unleashed dog citation, penalties for which start at $100 in DeKalb.

DeKalb could be on track this year for a slightly higher number of arrests stemming from off-leash animals. So far this year, 20 arrests have been made, compared to 28 last year and 25 in 2012.

DeKalb's municipal code states a dog is not allowed to run unleashed within city limits. Even if the dog is on private property, the owner is responsible for making sure the dog doesn't go on the sidewalk and approach pedestrians, authorities said.

"We take these calls very seriously," said DeKalb police Cmdr. John Petragallo. "We don't rush to judgment until we complete the investigation."

Sherer is now at a point where she doesn't know what to do. One past attack from a Dalmatian caused Neka's ear to bleed, although she did not call the police because she didn't notice the bleeding until she got home.

Sherer said she has called police in three out of the five incidents. Two were resolved with a warning to the dog owner, while neither a dog nor its owner could not be found in another case, Sherer said.

"I'd like to see not as many dogs let run loose," she said. "I've run into a lot of dogs running on no leash. They're usually the ones I run into when I've gotten in trouble.

"I'm in a power wheelchair. I can't outrun these dogs."

By the numbers

City of DeKalb unleashed animal citations by year

n 2012: 25

n 2013: 28

n 2014 (as of Wednesday): 20

Source: Penny Meier, DeKalb police administrative assistant

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