“I don’t think you should have dogs if they are walking you.”
Downtown Jersey City resident Jonathan Rodriguez, 24, spoke those words last week when describing how he was allegedly attacked by two huge dogs owned by local dog-handler Susan Kolb.
Rodriguez says he was attacked near the corner of Washington Street and Christopher Columbus Drive on the morning of Jan. 19 by two South African boerboel mastiffs – and other residents have joined him in calling for justice against the dogs.
Rodriguez claims the dogs were allegedly off the leash, in violation of Jersey City leash laws. He also says he was bitten in one of his arms and one of the legs, requiring further treatment and the possibility of plastic surgery.
“I don’t think you should have dogs if they are walking you.” – Jonathan Rodriguez
Other victims have come forward since Rodriguez’s attack, with some showing up in Jersey City Municipal Court on Tuesday. The parents of Joyce Liu, a 10-month old child, say the girl was allegedly attacked by the mastiffs in September when the baby and her grandmother were in a park at Greene and Essex streets.
Kolb and her attorney, Jonathan Goodman, appeared before Judge Nesle Rodriguez to respond to the charges.
Kolb, who advertises her Jersey City-based dog raising company on the web (http://jumbaboerboels.com/), faces the grim possibility that her dogs could be put to sleep under the state’s Vicious Dog Law as well as local laws if it is found that she violated the laws.
Her two dogs, which combined weigh almost 300 pounds, are currently being held at the Liberty Animal Shelter in Jersey City until further notice. Boerboels are known as dogs bred for guarding.
Kolb also faces criminal charges, as the attacks are currently under review by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office.
Keeping them under control
Jersey City municipal law stipulates unless a person is within the confines of a city-operated dog run, they must keep their dog “securely confined and controlled by one adequate leash not more than six feet long.”
City statute also stipulates that any animal “run[ing] at large” shall be impounded at the owner’s expense until they pay a fine.
Regarding dog attacks, city laws distinguish between a dog that is “dangerous” and one that is “vicious,” and there are strict ways the dog must be handled in each case.
A dog is classified as “dangerous” if it launches unprovoked attacks on humans or animals or has a “propensity” to do so. A “vicious” dog is one that, also unprovoked, bites or causes physical injury to a human or a domestic animal. In other words, the difference is that a ‘dangerous’ dog can attack but would not cause severe harm like a “vicious” dog.
The owners of a dog found by courts to have a dangerous or vicious dog is subject to the following regulations:
– A vicious or dangerous dog must be owned only by a person over 18.
– The owner of a vicious or dangerous dog must provide a proper enclosure to confine them and display a sign with a warning symbol.
– A vicious dog can be allowed outside of the dwelling only if muzzled, walked by someone over the age of 18, and securely held by a chain or leash not more than six feet long. A dangerous dog shall be allowed outside following the same guidelines, with the exception of being muzzled.
– If any owner violates this section, they shall be subject to a fine of $1,000 or imprisonment for a period up to six months, or both.
In court on Tuesday, Kolb and her attorney requested that a subsequent hearing be held this past Friday to determine a court date. At that future court date, Kolb will try to prove her dogs are not “vicious.”
In the 1990s, a situation occurred in neighboring Hoboken in which a woman’s pit bull attacked a pedestrian near the owner’s home. The dog owner spent more than $10,000 in advertising and legal fees to keep her dog from being put to sleep, and ultimately was told by the Hoboken Municipal Court that she could keep the dog if it was confined to her yard for the rest of its life.