Owner of dog that bit Reinholds boy charged
BY CINDY STAUFFER, Staff Writer
The owner of a dog that bit a Reinholds boy after he got off a school bus has been charged with four offenses, including owning a dangerous dog.
In addition to the dangerous dog charge, Dale Sweigart, 44, of Reinholds, was charged with not confining his dog, not having a dog license and not having updated rabies shots for the dog.
The dog bit 13-year-old Austin Smith last month. Austin, an eighth-grader at Cocalico Middle School, had stepped between the dog and two younger children to shield them from the animal after it broke free from a chain outside Sweigart's home.
After the incident, the dog was quarantined for 10 days until it could be determined that it did not have rabies.
A state dog law warden charged Sweigart with the four offenses.
Sweigart can either plead guilty and pay accompanying fines or plead not guilty and appear in court, said Samantha Krepps, a state agriculture department spokeswoman.
Sweigart must treat the dog as a "dangerous dog" until a court hearing, if he goes that route, Krepps said.
That means the dog must be muzzled, leashed and confined until that time.
If convicted of having a dangerous dog, Sweigart would have to register the dog annually for a $500 fee, confine the dog in a proper enclosure, post a warning sign, keep the dog muzzled and leashed when outside the enclosure, maintain liability insurance and follow other requirements.
Sweigart lives next door to Austin and his family. The teen's mother, Jackie, said Tuesday that her family has not seen or heard the dog in more than a week. She wondered if the dog had been euthanized.
The dog law enforcement office was not able to confirm if the dog had been euthanized, Krepps said.