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Owner of dogs that attacked man was on animal control's radar. Will he lose the dogs?

Miami Herald logo Miami Herald 11/9/2019 By Carli Teproff and Michelle Marchante, The Miami Herald

The five bulldogs seized earlier this week after they viciously attacked a man walking in Northwest Miami-Dade will likely be euthanized, Miami-Dade Animal Services said Friday.

“The severity of the attack and the pack mentality they exhibited shows us that they cannot be rehabilitated,” said Kathy Labrada, the assistant director of the department, who said that this isn’t the first time they had issues with at least two of the dogs involved —Chavez and Safira.

The dogs are in quarantine until Nov. 16 and then the owner, Julio Alvarenga, will be served with a notice of intent to euthanize the dogs. Alvarenga will then have 10 days to appeal the decision. If he appeals, there will be an administrative hearing, Labrada said.

“We will be ready to prove why these dogs pose a risk to the public,” she said.

On Tuesday, Jacques Nortis was walking on the sidewalk in the 1100 block of Northwest 103rd Street when five dogs “left containment and went after the victim and bit him,” according to the animal services report.

Video of the attack showed at least one dog lunging at Nortis and knocking him over. More dogs then join in and bite the man. People passing by tried to stop the attack by throwing things at the dogs.

The dogs were immediately taken into custody. Nortis was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital.

On the day of the attack, Nortis’ daughter told Miami Herald news partner CBS4 that without good Samaritans stopping the dogs, her “dad would’ve been dead.” Pictures his family gave the station showed him with scratches and bandages on his arm. He could not be reached for comment Friday.

On Friday, Alvarenga said his dogs were not aggressive.

“Those dogs are the most precious thing I have here,” he told the Miami Herald in Spanish. “I live alone here and the dogs are my companions.”

He said he has an electronic gate that opens and closes with the remote he has, but if something gets in the way it stays open. He said that is likely what happened on Tuesday and why the dogs were loose.

He said he believes Nortis provoked the dogs.

“He did some gesture at them,” he said. “If you look at the camera you’ll see that he did a gesture to them. If he kept walking and had ignored them, the dogs wouldn’t have done anything to him.”

But Labrada said this is not a case of provocation.

“This is clearly a failure on the owner’s part to secure his dogs,” she said.

And, it isn’t the first time Alvarenga has been warned to keep his dogs secure. Before Tuesday’s attack, animal services had responded to Alvarenga’s home five times since 2010.

In April, investigators were there twice in one week, records show. Once was because there was a report that there was a pit bull roaming and the second time for an animal bite. In the first case, the dogs were all secure when the investigator arrived, and the anonymous caller who put in the complaint was not there to give a statement. In the second case, a dog escaped the yard and caused scratches to a person walking by, records show. Alvarenga was issued a warning for allowing the dog to escape from the property.

In July 2015, investigators responding to a call posted a warning for the owner to get a rabies vaccine and license for a black and white pit bull as required by law.

A month before that, investigators responded to a report of an animal bite. The victim told investigators a dog got out and attacked him, records show. The man suffered scratches to his chest and face. Alvarenga was cited for the dog not having a current rabies vaccination. The dog was placed under quarantine for a period of ten days and then returned.

And in May 2010, an anonymous complaint about animal cruelty sent investigators to Alvarenga’s home. A warning was issued requiring the owner to treat a dog for ticks, vaccinate it against rabies and get a license.

In the most recent case, Labrada said Alvarenga could face several citations and even a criminal charge for not properly securing a dog that has been known to be aggressive.

She said the case is a reminder that being a dog owner comes with huge responsibility.

“A dog owner is responsible for confining their animals on their property,” she said.


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