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After Flagrant Dog Attack, Sheriff’s Cmdr. Steve Cole Appeals for More Responsibility From Pet Owners

| September 23, 2014

Cmdr. Steve Cole, a 20-year veteran of the Flagler County Sheriff's Office, after he was attacked Monday evening by a dog on a path along Matanzas Woods Parkway. (Steve Cole)

Cmdr. Steve Cole, a 20-year veteran of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, after he was attacked Monday evening by a dog on a path along Matanzas Woods Parkway. (Steve Cole)

Flagler County Sheriff’s Cmdr. Steve Cole would like Palm Coast’s dog owners to be more responsible and aware of their pets’ power—and capacity to harm. He’s offering himself as exhibit A.

Cole had finished work for the day and was out for his evening run Monday, which he was taking on the bike path along Matanzas Woods Parkway Monday.

At one point he sees a young man with two dogs coming in the opposite direction. Timothy Rang, 20, a resident of Palm Coast’s B Section, had one of the dogs on a leash. The other was running loose. The loose dog ran up to Cole and acted friendly, jumping up and down but without any aggression.

“As I got closer with the dog he had with the chain,” Cole said today, “I could tell the dog wasn’t really friendly, and I could tell he was tensing his hold on the chain.” Rang is small-statured. The black dog was pulling on the chain, and Rang couldn’t hold him. Cole gave the dog space. It didn’t make a difference. “The dog lunged, and I think the chain slipped from the handler’s hand and he was able to get me.”

The black dog is called Scar.

The dog bit Cole in the mid-to-upper upper chest area, puncturing him in three places, one of the bites leaving a long laceration, and all the bites leaving deep-purple bruising. The dog, which Cole says was likely a Rottweiler or a Rottweiler mix, managed the attack even though Cole is 6-foot tall and strongly built—which is what concerned him.

“I’m a pretty big guy, but that trail is used by children, older people, females. The damage could really be very serious,” Cole said. In fact, that evening, Cole’s wife, who is of much smaller stature, was supposed to be running with him but apologized to him—before the attack—when she ended up not going along. “I’ll be OK, but what if it was somebody else? It would have been a lot worse than it turned out to be.”

The sheriff’s office sent a deputy to investigate the case. Cole, a 20-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, declined medical attention, saying—according to the incident report—that he’d decide later whether to seek it out. By Tuesday, he was at work. “It’s painful but I can be in pain at home or I can be in pain at work,” he said.

Rang is the brother of the dogs’ owner, who had recently moved to Gainesville for school, according to the incident report. Rang provided the deputy with proof of Scar’s rabies vaccination, which was done in August. Animal control was informed of the incident.

Cole, who commands the sheriff’s office’s investigative division, among other responsibilities, posted an appeal to dog owners on his Facebook page, urging them to be responsible.

Dog-bite or aggressive-dog incidents have been a recurring issue in Palm Coast, which has a strict dog-leash law: dogs are to be leashed at all times when outside the house, or when a property is not enclosed. That would not have made a difference with Scar, since Scar was leashed, though the second dog was not. The day before the dog attacked Cole, a 25-0year-old woman in the nearby B Section fired a shot from her handgun at a pit pull that was charging her as she and her own dog were taking a walk in her backyard. Neither she nor the pit bull were injured.

Palm Coast Ordinances: Sec. 8-31. – Duties of animal owners:
Each owner of any animal, or anyone having any animal in his or her possession or custody, shall have the duty to exercise reasonable care and to take all necessary steps and precautions to protect other people, property and animals from injuries or damage which might result from his or her animal’s behavior, regardless of whether such behavior is motivated by mischievousness, playfulness, ferocity or any other motivation.

In the event that the owner or keeper of any animal is a minor, the parent(s) or guardian(s) of the minor shall be responsible to ensure that all provisions of this Code are complied with and said parent(s) or guardian(s) shall have the duties prescribed under the Code.

Every owner of any animal, or anyone having any animal in his or her possession or custody, shall have the duty to ensure that reasonable care and precautions are taken to prevent the animal from leaving, while unattended, the real property limits of its owner, possessor or custodian.

Each owner of any animal or anyone having an animal in his or her possession shall keep the animal under restraint at all times while the animal is off the real property limits of the owner, possessor or custodian unless the owner of the animal has the consent of the person on whose property the animal is at large. The foregoing shall not apply to a performing animal, engaged in a bona fide commercial performance or participating in a parade or similar event; provided, however, that the owner of the animal shall ensure that all reasonable and necessary steps and actions are taken to protect the general public.

It is prohibited and unlawful for the owner of any female dog or cat in season to fail to confine said animal, either willfully or through failure to exercise due care and control, in such a manner so as to make said animal inaccessible to any male dog or cat except for breeding purposes.

Animals takes off owner’s property shall be on a leash which shall not exceed eight feet in length.

(Ord. No. 2010-10, § 6, 7-20-10)

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15 Responses for “After Flagrant Dog Attack, Sheriff’s Cmdr. Steve Cole Appeals for More Responsibility From Pet Owners”

  1. Sherry Epley says:

    That dog should be put down. . . no doubt about it! When even the members of the sheriff’s department are not safe from a “bad” dog on a leash, then our community has a huge safety problem!

  2. confidential says:

    I am so sorry Steve! I know you are always jogging/running thru our Palm Coast paths. This is terrible what happened to you. Please take good care of those wounds I think you need stitches in one and also the danger of infection from the dogs mouth bacteria.Hope you went to the doctor for safe care and wish you recover well.
    Lately there were attacks of lose dogs in the B section in one an owner walking his two dogs was attacked and wounded and one of his two dogs the Pomeranian was killed. These owners need to be made responsible by any means permitted by law. Are we allowed to carry a maze spray as a potential defensive tool in our exercise walks around the city? Sometimes I see in the C section very aggressive behavior like pit bulls or other large dogs in enclosed backyards and wonder that in any moment will jump out the fence. Then I call on the owners and they come out and get them inside. Those dogs should not even be left outdoors enclosed or chained as they can break off from both and attack passerby’s.
    This is totally out of hand.

  3. Ralph Belcher says:

    I feel “unsocialble” dogs should be secured at home and not ‘out in public’. No questions asked.

  4. Charles Ericksen, Jr says:

    We just had another dog incident in the B section on 9/20 as reported by FL..I hope the dog has had it’s shots. I got bit in 2008, and the owner said the dog had it’s shot, but DID NOT and there was no penalty for the false information. I got penned up one day, also by a Pit bull, and happened to find a big stick which made him think differently.. Again, though,, NO PUNISHMENT..

    The owner should be responsible for all expenses.. and the dog should pay for it’s owners stupidity of not being able to control the dog,

  5. Groot says:

    Thanks for posting this. I no longer run or bike outside in Palm Coast. I have been chased by dogs and threatened by the two legged kind of animal as well. I would really like to see more dog owners who do not leash their animals cited and prosecuted. Those bites look beyond painful, hope Steve feels better soon. The dogs should be put down and the idiot owner locked up.

  6. Omer Smith says:

    Take care of the wounds, Steve. This City has a number pet owners who simply should not be caring for animals. Besides the leash law violation, many owners fail to cleanup after the pets, many fail to vaccinate the animals, lack of voice or physical control, and do not yield to others while on the path. I walk my dog about every day and find many folks in violation of the ordinance controlling pets. The City takes great strides to incorporate a pet ordinance — the City must equally enforce it. Part of a dog’s positive behavior training includes the human assuming the role of Alpha Dog and when effectively trained, the dog will respect his/her sub-position in the “pack”. Finally, I hope you heal quickly, Steve. We worked in the same agency for many years, my friend. I hate to see this happening in Palm Coast.

  7. C Gollon says:

    Commander Cole,
    I feel really bad you had to go through this. Most people are dog lovers and most dogs deserve the affection. That said, pet owners have to be legally responsible for their animals behavior. Hang in there dude and keep up the good work. Best wishes. Corey

  8. Obama 2014 says:

    I believe we need to demand a change in the laws in palm coast regarding pet ownership. Animal Control can only follow the law and most of the people with these pets are creating an unsafe and unsanitary environment for the tax paying residents and the their animals.

    • Createjoy says:

      I agree with you completely. I also like your “Obama 2014” name statement. It speaks thoughtful and intelligent volumes.

  9. pvl says:

    I am not surprised. The problem of uncontrolled and unleashed dogs running loose is no confined to Palm Coast, it is all over Flagler County.

    I live at the beach in the Hammock. We have an on going problem with uncontrolled dogs off leash running on the beach. There are many signs posted about Flagler County’s Leas Law. For what ever reason, it seems many dog owners think the law does not applies to them. When confronted, some dog owners like to respond saying; “don’t worry – he is friendly – he won’t bite” or “why don’t you get a life” or “I have a leash – see here it is “, holding it up but not attached to the dog(s). Sometimes they will put their dog on a leash just to walk down the beach a short distance and release them to run. Go figure.

    I have had meetings with Commissioner Meeker, the Flagler County Sheriff”s Office and representatives of Flagler Count Animal Control (operated by the Humane Society, the advocate for animals). I have been promised enforcement. To date I have experienced, at best, occasional and limited “proactive enforcement”. When it comes to “reactive enforcement” the response always seems delayed. Dogs are still running loose on the beach every day.

    Seems to me that many dog owners, at least the ones at the beach, are laughing at Flagler County and it’s “enforcement” of the Leash Law.


  10. Dog owner says:

    Another problem we have with pet owners in Flagler County is the owners taking their animals, that are not service animals, into the stores. This includes grocery stores. I’ve seen them in TJ. Maxx, Target, Wal-Mart, Winn-Dixie and Publix, just to name a few. Sometimes they’re in strollers and sometimes they’re just carrying them around. I am a dog owner, but I don’t believe my dog needs to go inside the grocery store. It is unsanitary, at the least. Does anyone ever consider that there may be people with allergies to animals that shop in these same stores? Why doesn’t management do something? Pets, and it is mostly small dogs, have no place in a store.

  11. Pet says:

    Facebook Pit Bulls Shot or Confronted By Police. Hundreds of news links to pit bulls attacking and threatening law officers. if you have a pit bull attack story that has never been published, Over one hundred thousand pit bull attacks yearly yet the pit bull owners deny the truth.

  12. Meagan says:

    For those who are tired of at-large dogs, take photos with your cameras and cell phones, call the police and animal control. Make sure any fines related to off-leash dogs are levied against irresponsible owners. Raise heck at city hall. Follow through. Make irresponsible dog ownership costly. You may be saving a child’s life, a loved one’s, or your own. I love dogs, especially large dogs, but I have zero tolerance for clueless, negligent dog owners and their dogs who terrorize neighborhoods and destroy the peace of the community.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Keep in mind this is the owner’s fault, not the dog’s.

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