The Grove mayor and his girlfriend were cited following an incident in which a dog allegedly bit a child during the 2016 Grand Lake Boat & Sport Show.
Grove Police Chief Mark Morris said Mayor Marty Follis and his girlfriend, Cynthia Lee Konieczny of Austin, Texas, were issued tickets after the incident. Follis was cited for animals: at large or trespass, while Konieczny was cited for animals: rabies vaccination required.
According to Morris, Follis and Konieczny had taken Konieczny's two German Shepherd dogs to the boat show on Saturday, March 12.
According to the report, when Follis brought the dogs into the civic center, Alice Ehrie, with the Grand Lake Association, said she informed the mayor "he could not bring the dogs inside, because they were not service dogs."
During the event, service dogs were present in the "One Vet, One Dog, Two Lives Saved" booth.
The report further says the mayor "proceded to walk past [Ehrie] stating 'they are German dogs and they are certified.'"
According to the report, Ehrie asked Follis for the dogs' certification papers, and "he continued to walk past them."
Sometime after this incident, at approximately 4 p.m., Morris said one of the dogs "nipped" a 7-year-old boy, who had asked Konieczny permission to pet it.
Morris said it appears as if it was not a "vicious dog attack" but rather, as the child bent down to pet the dog, it became startled when several of the child's friends ran up to the it.
Morris said the child received a gash to his upper lip, which later required at least two stitches at INTEGRIS Grove Hospital. Morris said the child's mother was looking at items in a booth and did not witness the incident.
Follis said he was present when the incident happened, but had his back to the dog and child.
"No one really knows what happened," Follis said. "Basically it's not a bite, the dog nipped and caught the boy's lip."
By the time officers were called to the civic center, Morris said Konieczny had taken the dogs to Follis' residence in Grove. She later told officers the dogs' shot records were at her home in Texas, and could be faxed to Grove.
It was later determined the shot records, which Morris said were written in German, were out of compliance by one week, resulting in the citation for Konieczny.
Morris said Konieczny told officers the dog had never shown aggression toward children in any way prior to the incident.
Follis said he takes full responsibility for the incident.
"In retrospect, I consider the decision to bring these animals into an uncontrolled environment was in poor judgement on my part," Follis said. "Therefore, I fully expect to be treated as any other citizen and will accept the consequences of this action as it pertains to any ordinance violations and subsequent citations from the City of Grove.
"Of greater concern and importance is the health and well-being of all involved."
Follis said he did not believe "it would be a problem" to have the dogs at the civic center, because "there were other dogs there."
Hoyit Bacon, chairman of the Grand Lake Association — the organization which hosted the boat show, said he believes the "GLA staff was professional in their actions and response" to the incident and showed concern for the "wellbeing of guests."
Bacon said board members wanted to obtain additional information before addressing the situation further.
As of press time, the GLA board had not scheduled a special meeting concerning the incident.
According to Grove City Clerk Bonnie Buzzard, who also serves as the court clerk, Follis' ticket carries a $50 fine and $54 court costs, while Konieczny's citation carries a $40 fine and $54 court costs.
Grove City Attorney Darren Cook said he will prosecute the tickets "just like anyone else" and because the incident did not happen during an official city function, if Follis wanted to seek legal counsel he would need to hire a private attorney.
Messages left for the child's mother, concerning the incident, were not returned as of press time.
According to signage placed the windows of both the north and south main entrances of the civic center, "No animals permitted except animals used as an aid for the disabled."
Follis said he did not see the signs on the doorway. He said Ehrie did tell him he couldn't have the dogs in the civic center, but he believed dogs' schutzhund obedience training, met the requirements for being at the civic center.
"I thought they were certified to be in there," Follis said. "I made a mistake. I'll take the citation for that."
City ordinances involving animal regulations state that a service animal is one that is "trained by a licensed professional trainer, to do work or performs tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair or fetching dropped items."
The ordinances also requires that the Grove Police Department be notified within four hours anytime someone is bitten by an animal. It also states that the animal in question will be "securely quarantined at a veterinarian hospital within twenty four (24) hours from the time of the bite incident, for a period of ten (10) days from the date the person was bitten and shall not be released from such quarantine except by permission of the animal control officer of the city and the veterinarian in charge of the quarantined animal."
On Monday, Morris said Konieczny had returned to Austin, Texas, with her dogs. The dog in question, a 3-year-old, 90-pound German Shepherd, is currently being held for the required 10 day quarantine at the Griffith Small Animal Hospital in Austin, Texas.
Tricia Robinson, a staff member with the clinic, said the dog arrived at 11 a.m. Monday, March 14, to begin the quarantine.
Follis said it was Konieczny's decision to take the dogs back to Texas, rather than have the one in question quarantined in Grove.