Vaitogi dog owner charged with possession of viscous animal
The government has charged a Vaitogi woman who owns a dog, described by police as a “vicious animal” following a dog bite incident involving a seven year old girl in June.
Matagi Savai’i was taken into police custody with an arrest warrant by police officers on Tuesday and made her initial appearance in the District Court yesterday morning.
Savai’i is charged with possession of a vicious animal, a class D felony punishable up to five years in jail a fine of up to $5,000 or both.
According to the government’s case, on June 30, 2012 police received a call from the victim’s mother that her daughter was allegedly attacked by a dog named “Bruno” owned by Savai’i.
Police visited the defendant and informed her that Bruno had attacked a seven year girl, who is her neighbor. The government claims police arrived and observed the victim, who was injured and contacted Emergency Medical Services for assistance. EMS arrived and took the young girl in for treatment on her facial area and legs.
It’s alleged the defendant said it was not her dog that attacked the young girl, however police pointed out that there were witnesses who identified that it was the defendant’s dog.
According to the government’s case, the police then informed the defendant that there are substantial steps that will be taken concerning her dog, in which Savai’i agreed to cooperate.
One witness told police she heard the young girl screaming, and she used rocks to attempt to stop the dog from attacking the victim, however the dog turned around and attempted to attack her.
Police report states the victim sustained a one inch deep laceration on her calf, with minor lacerations on her legs. The government claims police also approached the Agriculture Department regarding the dog the same day of the incident.
The dog was captured by Agriculture employees and it was ‘put down’ in the presence of police officers according to the report.
The defendant is scheduled to appear this Friday for her preliminary examination, where the court will determine whether the government has sufficient evidence to have this matter proceed to the High Court for other court proceedings and disposition.
The defendant, who’s held on bail of $5,000 is represented by Assistant Public Defender Donna Clement. Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Hyde who’s prosecuting this matter noted that there is an existing law regarding possession of vicious animals in the territory and those who violate that statute (see below) will be prosecuted.
(a) No person may import into or possess in the Territory a live vicious animal, except for animals being exported out of the Territory within 48 hours of their arrival.
(b) For the purpose of this section, a vicious animal is one which, without provocation;
(1) has made an attack on a person whether or not the attack resulted in any injuries to the person;
(2) bitten any person; or
(3) displays snarling, snapping, growling, clawing or other behavior which tends to intimidate, frighten or subdue a person.
(c) Animals which display the behavior described in subsection (b) upon command of an owner or keeper are considered vicious animals under this section.
(d) This section shall be enforced and animals shall be seized by the Department of Public Safety upon its own initiative and upon formal complaint by a person or guardian or parent of a person attacked, bitten or otherwise harassed by a vicious animal. An animal seized under this section must be inspected by the Department of Agriculture officials and be destroyed within 48 hours if the officials confirm its vicious behavior. The Department of Agriculture shall handle the destruction of such animals in a reasonably humane manner.
(e) Any person who imports or possesses a vicious animal in the Territory is guilty of a class A misdemeanor. If such animal causes injury to a person in an unprovoked attack then the importer or possessor is guilty of a class D felony.