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Protesters hope to save Kron's life

GRANTS PASS — Just over a dozen protesters stood in the rain outside the Josephine County Courthouse Friday in opposition to an order by the Board of Commissioners to euthanize a pit bull named Kron accused in a March 11 attack on a horse.

Cars parked along the road declared "Pit Bull Pride" and posterboards read "Let Kron Live."

The 2-year-old dog, who caretakers say limps because of an injury when he was a puppy, escaped the yard of Azalea Road resident Leah Harp, where he was staying, and ventured over to the property of Riessen Road residents John and Mary Bartlett.

Witnesses said Kron attacked a horse on the Bartlett's property, biting the horse's cheek and muzzle.

Harp, caretaker of the dog owned by Grants Pass resident Brye Rogers, doesn't dispute that Kron "nipped at" the horse, but said she doesn't believe the dog intended to hurt the equine.

Mary Bartlett said Kron traveled more than 1,000 feet to get to the horse pen, bit the muzzle of her 30-year-old Appaloosa mare named Hummer and refused to let go, prompting her husband to fire several warning shots.

Bartlett said the dog then chased her horse, at which point her husband shot the dog, striking it in the neck. The dog then lunged at Bartlett and her husband shot it again, she said.

"All I saw was teeth and a big head and I closed my eyes and screamed because I thought I didn't want to see it get me," Bartlett said.

Harp and Rogers both say Kron was running away because he was afraid and that they don't believe he would have harmed Bartlett or Hummer.

"We're not real sure what happened between the horse and Kron but he did nip the horse. He also growled at the neighbor's wife and the neighbor shot him, twice," Harp said.

"The horse required no medical treatment and Kron had to go to the emergency animal hospital."

Josephine County commissioners voted 2-1 to euthanize Kron at the animal shelter. But Commissioner Dan DeYoung said Friday he issued a "stay of execution" to allow for an appeals process.

Animal control officials declined to comment to the Mail Tribune and referred phone calls to the Public Health Department, which was closed on Friday.

DeYoung said liability concerns and state statutes guided the commissioners' decision to have Kron euthanized. Both DeYoung and commission Chairman Simon Hare voted for the order, while commissioner Lily Morgan voted against it.

DeYoung said animal control officers "went through all the steps," including taking footprint impressions from inside the horse's run and documenting injuries to both animals.

"State statutes are pretty clear about what you can and can't do to a dog when it is chasing, injuring or killing livestock," DeYoung said. "Because of the liability that would fall back to the county if we let the dog go, and if it bit someone else or other livestock, it could potentially come back to the county."

DeYoung added, "Because of public outcry, we decided as a commission that we could call for an independent hearings officer to listen to all the evidence again and make a determination independent of what we decided. But there wouldn't be rules already in place if something hadn't gone sideways over and over and over again in cases like this."

Lona Gibbs, a certified veterinary technician for Southern Oregon Veterinary who attended Friday's protest, said she helped treat Kron of his gunshot wounds and that staff who cared for the dog did not find him to be aggressive.

"He was one of our favorites. We get gunshot wounds pretty regularly, but he was a happy guy while we had him. We even had staff fighting over who got to walk him. He's a great dog," Gibbs said.

"We were all so appalled at the decision. With his size, if he wanted to do any damage to a horse, he could have."

An emotional Rogers, who said her family has had Kron since he was born and had left him with Harp while moving between houses, said she was willing to do whatever was required to be able to have Kron returned to her family.

"Before all this, he's really never been out of the house very much. He's a couch dog. He has his own futon. He's been around babies and other children. He's not a vicious dog in any way," Rogers said.

"I just feel like he was probably just really scared. He got curious and went over there but then tried to leave and he got shot in the head. But a dog that's really trying to attack something is going to continue."

DeYoung said county officials would arrange a review by a hearings officer, after which the parties involved would have the option of pursuing an appeals process to include the option of a judicial hearing.

Kron's supporters have started an online petition to save the dog's life at www.change.org.

Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com.

Protesters gather outside Josephine County Courthouse in support of Kron. [Photo by Buffy Pollock]
Kron