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'Dangerous dogs' return to Bald Head home

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Appeals hearing not yet set

By Laura Lewis, Reporter

While Bald Head Island dog owners await their day in court, the county continues to tweak its dangerous dog ordinance.

Bald Head residents Diane Robinson and Larry Kirby are appealing the case in which their Doberman pinschers, Teddy and Nina, were deemed dangerous by the county last summer.

Neighbor Lori Barfield testified the dogs charged through her yard on Leopard Frog Court on the night of June 10 and acted as if they were going to attack her and her daughter as they returned home in an open golf cart. She said she felt it necessary to use pepper spray to keep the dogs at bay.

In August, a county environmental health committee upheld Brunswick County Health Director Don Yousey’s July 9 dangerous dog order in which Teddy and Nina were seized by the county. The dogs have since returned to Robinson and Kirby’s home on Bald Head after being kept in a boarding facility for three and a half months.

Kirby said Monday the dogs were allowed to return in late November and are confined to the couple’s home. When they’re taken off the property the dogs are required to wear muzzles. He said they built a fenced-in area around the yard where Nina can walk around, “but even then she’s required to be on a leash,” he said.

He said they also built a device in their golf-cart garage to keep the dogs confined.

The couple’s appeals hearing has been delayed as the county reviews with the town of Bald Head Island where the case should be heard.

Brunswick County Attorney Huey Marshall said Tuesday the county filed a motion stating the incident occurred on Bald Head and therefore should be under the village of Bald Head Island’s jurisdiction.

“If we can work something out, fine,” he said.

Kirby said they have every intention of seeing the case through.

“It could go all the way to appeals,” he said. “I’m not going to let it go, because it’s wrong.”

He and Robinson had backing from about 30 people who showed up at the committee hearing in August wearing “Free Teddy & Nina” buttons with photos of the rescued dogs.

“The entire episode is based on half-truths and lies,” Kirby said.

He said Marshall’s continuance of the case had forced them to refile and start over again.

“It’s like going back to square one,” he said. “I think they hope the expense and frustration will drive us away. I’m in the process of getting as many people together as I can.”

Brunswick County Environmental Health Director David Stanley said Tuesday the county is still working on changing its dangerous dog ordinance that was adopted in 2007.

He said they’re in the process of looking at other county ordinances and redrafting certain portions of Brunswick County’s.

“We’d like it to be a little different,” he said.

For example, he said instead of one person making a dangerous-dog designation, it could be done by a separate panel, modeled from a similar measure in New Hanover County.