PENNSYLVANIA -- Elizabeth Jovanov
has racked up nearly $20,000 in fines to date because of her son’s refusal to have Slim – their 2-year-old Staffordshire pit bull terrier – put to sleep.
“Me putting my dog to sleep is like me putting my kid to sleep. I’d pay a lifetime of fines before I’d let that happen,” said Traian Jovanov
, 20, of North Pine Street.
City health officer Mark Thompson ordered Elizabeth Jovanov to have the dog put down after the dog allegedly attacked U.S. Postal Service employee Andrew Debalko while he was delivering mail on May 31.
She was caring for the dog because her son was jailed on a probation violation.
The dog attacked people “without provocation on three occasions over a 30-month period, inflicting bodily harm on each,”
according to a citation Thompson filed on June 15 with District Justice Joseph Zola.
The citation, which carries a $600-per-day fine for each day of the violation, states that Jovanov was charged with failing to comply with Thompson’s order to euthanize the dog.
The fine stands at about $19,800.
Good luck getting her to pay it.
Three unprovoked attacks by a dangerous dog can result in mandatory euthanasia, although the officer may direct that the dog be euthanized after only one severe attack, the city’s new dangerous dog law states.
An employee at Zola’s office said no plea had been entered on the “failure to euthanize” citation or two others related to the incident. A hearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. July 25.
Elizabeth Jovanov also was cited by Thompson for having an animal running at large, and by state dog warden James Spencer for harboring a dangerous dog. Those charges carry maximum $300 fines.
Within 14 days of a city police or health officer’s determination that the dog is dangerous, the owner can appeal the determination to a three-member panel consisting of a local veterinarian, a dog trainer and someone experienced with various dog breeds.
Traian Jovanov said he was unaware of the city’s appeal process and doesn’t believe his dog is dangerous.
Thompson said the dog was loose and off the owner’s property when it bit Debalko, but Jovanov said the dog was leashed and bit the mailman when Debalko put his hand near the dog’s face while handing mail to Jovanov’s sister.
Debalko did not return a call seeking comment.
Jovanov said he doesn’t believe his dog was at fault in that incident or in two previous attacks in 2003 and 2004.
Jovanov said a man with whom he was arguing in 2003 kicked his dog in the face while getting on his bicycle, and that the dog jumped around the man but never bit him.
He said a man delivering laundry to his parent’s tenants in 2004 was bitten after he entered the back yard of the residence, even though signs were posted warning people of a dog on the premises.
However, the 2004 bite victim – Christian Rubio of Beaver Meadows – told a reporterhe never entered the yard, that the dog was loose in front of the house and that there were no warning signs posted. Rubio’s name appears on a witness list for the July 25 hearing.
For the 2003 incident, Traian Jovanov was charged with and pleaded guilty to failure to have his dog licensed and vaccinated against rabies. For the 2004 incident, he was charged with and found guilty of failure to keep his dog under control and have it vaccinated.
Jovanov said his mother, who had hip surgery last week and was unavailable for comment for this story, told him she would handle the current legal situation.
He said he hopes the order to euthanize the dog isn’t enforceable because the law went into effect after the 2003 and 2004 incidents.
Jovanov said he wants to move to the Poconos so the dog can have space to run and not be subject to “unfair” city laws. He said he accepted the dog from its previous owners when it was about 7 months old and showed signs of abuse. He said he intended to give the dog away, but fell in love with it and couldn’t bear to part with it.
“You can come back two years later and I’m still going to have this dog. I might be racked up with fines, but I’ll still have this dog,” Jovanov said.
(Indiana Gazette - July 7, 2005)