Increased dog violence enrages Melbourne community

Killed kitten sparks community to ask for solutions to aggressive dogs

Headline Goes Here Courtesy of Florida Today

Bobra and Roy Cobb of Melbourne have added a new addition to their family, after their 7-month-old kitten Sunshine was killed by a pit bull New Years Day.

BREVARD, Fla. - Bobra Cobb didn't expect her 7-month-old kitten Sunshine to die. Especially not in the jaws of Peachy, the neighborhood pit bull.

Bobra and her husband, Roy, tried to save Sunshine. Roy suffered a broken pinky and puncture wounds on his hands trying to pry the dog's mouth open, and Bobra repeatedly struck the dog's head with a decorative concrete patio stone, Florida Today reports.

"When the cat stopped moving, he let it go. We hoped it was alive — but he died within seconds," Bobra Cobb recalled, standing on her patio at the attack site.

Five weeks after Sunshine's New Year's Day death, residents in the Flamingo Lane neighborhood in Melbourne remain "highly concerned and incensed," Melbourne Beach Town Manager Bill Hoskovec said.

They're not alone: In recent months, similar unleashed-dog violence and aggressive behavior has attracted attention across the Space Coast, including an attack on a Palm Bay police officer that resulted in surgery.

Last week, the Melbourne Beach Town Commission discussed dog attacks during a two-hour special meeting. Town Attorney Paul Gougelman is now researching methods to crack down on owners whose dogs bite, chase or menace adults, children and pets.

Gougelman said he understands residents' fears and frustrations. However, he said Florida law and county ordinances govern management of trouble-making animals, not the town.

The Florida Legislature has prohibited breed-specific local ordinances since 1990. If a dog attacks someone's pet, state law requires a second documented attack on a domestic animal before that dog can be formally declared "dangerous." Gougelman recommended that residents lobby the Florida House and Senate and the Brevard County Commission for tougher dog legislation.

Among the ideas now under consideration by Melbourne Beach leaders:

• Document neighborhood complaints of threatening dog behavior. If the dog owner fails to resolve the issue, he or she must buy $300,000 in liability insurance.

• Create a dog registration system that imposes increasing fees on owners of poorly behaved animals.

• Craft a town ordinance that levels civil fines on owners of dogs that attack others.

• Make dog owners muzzle their animals outdoors and increase fines for owners of unleashed dogs.

The Cobbs say they are shocked that Peachy is allowed to remain in their neighborhood. So is their neighbor, Nancy Lavoro, who said Peachy barged into her house during Thanksgiving weekend .

"To our horror, a pit bull came trotting up the street — and ran into my front door. Next thing I know, the pit bull is running after my dogs through the living room, into the kitchen, and into my laundry room," Lavoro recalled.

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