Chesterton Tribune

Family of dog attack victim files suit against Porter County

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Amy and Peyton Janney III of Valparaiso are plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed on May 19 with the Porter County Superior Court that contends Porter County Animal Shelter/Control as well as county officials are partly to blame for injuries their son Quintin Janney sustained when he was attacked by a dog belonging to their neighbor John Button of Valparaiso.

The boy was 9 years-old at the time of the attack which occurred on the afternoon of March 15, 2009 in the 4300 Block of Ostedt Drive, the suit says.

The defendants named in the case also include Button, Porter County Indiana, the Porter County Commissioners, and the Porter County Council. Representing the Janney family is attorney David R. Novak of Schlyer & Associates injury law firm in Merrillville.

On March 15, 2009, Quintin Janney was reportedly walking on his side of the street with his brother to their house when Button’s two-year-old male Rottweiler named Dashboard ran across and bit Quintin Janney’s left leg. More injuries were caused to the boy’s left arm. The injuries resulted in the boy receiving 94 stitches. The suit states that the two boys did nothing to provoke the dog.

The Janney family accused Button of not obeying the ordinances of Porter County and the state of Indiana. Allegations argue that Button negligently or carelessly permitted his dogs to run loose, allowed them to exit the home without receiving proper vaccinations, and failed to take corrective actions after he received a citation from the county animal shelter.

According to the suit, employees at the county animal shelter received at least ten calls in regards to Button’s dogs two years prior to the attack and were aware that the animals acted aggressively, even frequently discussing the matter during weekly staff meetings.

The suit contends that the county animal control/shelter is also at fault in that it did not take legal action to detain the dogs even though they reportedly sent a letter of correspondence to Button on March 22, 2008 saying they would be seeking a court order to remove the dogs if he failed to comply with county ordinances. Between the time the letter was sent and the attack a year later, the shelter received at least four additional complaints of Button’s dogs running loose and acting viciously, the suit said.

The shelter also issued three citations to Button for failure to vaccinate his dogs prior to the attack. It is believed that the shelter did in fact impound the dog, but released him to his owner without being vaccinated or verifying proof of vaccination.

The plaintiffs claim the shelter wrongfully released the dog with the knowledge that the dog was characterized as dangerous.

“At all times relevant, the Porter County Defendants negligently, carelessly and/or recklessly failed to follow their own procedures and policies relating to Defendant John Button’s dog Dashboard,” the suit said. One paragraph also states that “upon information or belief,” the Porter County Defendants did not provide adequate funding for the animal shelter/control to enforce its procedures and policies.

The county reserves the right to impound vicious or loose dogs and the authority to destroy dogs that have been declared vicious or dangerous.

The suit does not give a specific amount of money sought to compensate the plaintiffs’ losses or injuries.

Porter County Attorney Gwenn Rinkenberger told the Chesterton Tribune she would be representing the shelter in the case but had not been served the suit yet to give further comment.


Posted 5/27/2010