A man whose dog allegedly attacked Highland County Commissioner Shane Wilkin last week faces 60 hours of community service unless he surrenders his dog to the county — and Hillsboro Municipal Court Judge David McKenna said a second attack could result in a jail sentence.
Debbenair Noble, 20, Hillsboro, appeared in municipal court Wednesday morning, where he was berated by McKenna after pleading guilty to failure to control and failure to register the canine.
The court date came about a week and a half after Noble’s bull terrier mix allegedly attacked Wilkin while he was jogging in town last Monday. The dog was confiscated, and as of Wednesday morning was still in county custody.
Highland County Dog Warden Cathy Seifer said during the hearing that the county dog pound keeps unregistered dogs for a maximum of 14 days before putting them down unless they are registered and claimed.
McKenna told Noble that if he wants the dog back, he must first obtain registration for it.
McKenna said that Noble has more than $400 in outstanding court costs from previous cases, and could be held in contempt if he doesn’t pay up. In addition, McKenna said that although Noble’s current dog-related charges are not jailable offenses, he could be put in jail if the dog attacks a second time.
“If you can’t keep your dog locked up, we’ll keep you locked up,” the judge said. “It’s one or the other.”
Noble said he planned to register the dog and take it to behavior classes within the county, although the judge and dog warden said they knew of no one who conducts such training here.
McKenna questioned Noble’s ability to take the dog to any training since his driver’s license has been suspended for some time.
“When are you going to do something about it?” the judge asked. “Are you just going to wait until it attacks another commissioner?”
McKenna sentenced Noble to 60 hours of community service unless he permanently surrenders the dog, and ordered him to pay a $100 fine for each charge.
Seifer told The Times-Gazette Wednesday afternoon that she had spoken with Noble, and he said he wants to keep the dog. In order to claim it from the pound, Seifer said, Noble must pay $24 for the dog license and $5 for every day the dog has been housed at the pound.
“He said he wants to keep it because it’s a good dog,” Seifer said. “So he said he’ll come up with the money on Friday.”
According to a Hillsboro Police Department report, Wilkin was jogging in the 100 block of South Elm Street last Monday evening when he was attacked by the dog, which lunged at his face and left a number of scratches.
Sgt. Steve Browder, acting chief of the Hillsboro Police Department, told The Times-Gazette last week that Noble had reportedly gone to a nearby store, and the dog apparently came out of a house and attacked Wilkin. Wilkin said later that the dog blocked his path into the entrance of the nearby fitness center where he was returning after his jog.
Browder said Friday that Wilkin refused treatment for his injuries. Wilkin had numerous visible scratches around his mouth and other areas of his face when he attended a meeting the day after the attack.
Browder said Hillsboro has a law requiring dogs to be on a leash, or otherwise secured on property with a fence or other measures that control them. He said reports of dogs running loose or menacing residents present occasional problems.
“It goes in spells,” said Browder.
Wilkin said Friday it was fortunate his young daughters weren’t with him, as they were just the previous day, along with his wife. He said he loves dogs, and his family recently acquired one, but he explained to his girls that if the dog ever attacked someone, it would have to go.
He said the dog “wasn’t going for my legs or ankles, it was going for my face and neck.”
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.