Family of Child Killed in Hopkinton Dog Attack Speak Out
By Dave Franzman, Reporter
HOPKINTON, Iowa - The mother of a three-year-old killed in a dog attack this weekend said the family doesn’t know how the two Rottweilers got out of a secure kennel.
Rhonda Marty, mother of victim Vanessa Husmann, said the attack happened in a fenced-in back yard at the family’s Hopkinton home Saturday afternoon. The dogs, later destroyed by authorities after the attack, were kept in a separate, locked kennel in the back yard.
Marty said her daughter was “never left unattended with the dogs. Somehow they had gotten out on their own.” Marty speculated that the dogs might have dug underneath the fence surrounding the kennel. But she said no one may know for sure because on Sunday, a day after the death, family members “…destroyed the kennel and removed it.”
She added that her daughter participated in some of the care and feeding of the Rottweilers with her father Vaughn Husmann, so she was familiar with the dogs.
Marty said it was important that people know that Vanessa was not left unattended. She was in the care of her 18-year-old half brother when she apparently went out the back door of her home into her own fenced-in yard. Her mother said “it is her yard. She walked out the door. Her swing set is outside. She came and went a lot. We didn’t know the dogs had gotten out because they were to be locked up.”
Funeral information is not finalized yet and may be released on Tuesday.
While the investigation continues into what happened, the mayor of Hopkinton said the city council there would explore tightening animal control rules that already ban some dogs from the city. Currently, Hopkinton does not allow residents to keep Staffordshire terriers, or any type of pit bull, in the city as a pet. That ban also applies to pit bull mixed breeds.
Cathy Harris, Hopkinton Mayor, said she added an item to the Monday night city council agenda to discuss adding Rottweilers and Rottweiler mixed breeds to that ban. The city clerk was gathering information on Monday about bans in other communities and other large dog breeds that should be added to an expanded list. The nearby community of Monticello also bans pit bulls, but not Rottweilers.
Harris said she thought of expanding the city’s banned dog list immediately after learning of the dog attack. “My first thought was we need to get them (Rottweilers) out of town because they are a dangerous dog,” Harris said.
Harris also said the city knew about the Rottweilers at that address for some time because a member of the city council is a next door neighbor. Bob Porter said when he the Rottweilers move in he wasn’t happy. But Porter admitted the dogs were well cared for and in a secured area and never caused any problems except for occasional barking.
But any attempt to add that breed to the banned list is likely to draw some reaction from pet owners. Jody and Lisa Davis own a Rottweiler/German Shepherd mixed breed named “Zeus.” They would not take kindly to any effort to get their dog out of town.
“It’s not just a breed thing,” Jody Davis said “it’s how the animals are raised and in my 42 years I’ve never seen such a thing (dog attack) happen. “
While the city council may discuss adding Rottweilers to the prohibited list in Hopkinton, the mayor said any vote on the question won’t come up before the next meeting in April.
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