Washington City man arrested after allegedly telling judge he shot his dog after biting incident

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ST. GEORGE — A Washington City man was arrested for allegedly telling a judge he shot his dog during a court hearing held in January after the animal attacked a man who was left with injuries so significant he had to seek medical attention to treat the wounds.

Photo of English mastiff for illustrative purposes only | Photo courtesy of Rodovan Rohosky/Wikipedia, St. George News

After officers responded to a noise complaint involving an English mastiff dog, the dog’s owner, 57-year-old Frank Russell of Washington City, was arrested on one second-degree felony count of making a false-inconsistent material statement and one misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct

Washington City Police Lt. Kory Klotz told St. George News the recent arrest has a history linked to one of more than a dozen calls to police involving the animal that began approximately a year ago when officers started receiving noise complaints from neighbors in the Green Springs Heights area who reported they could hear the dog barking incessantly.

“The complaints were that the dog was barking nonstop – all hours of the day and night and there were many calls,” Klotz said.

Animal control officers were also called out to a number of the calls and were joined by police officers when the suspect allegedly became argumentative with them or refused to cooperate.

Amid the noise calls there was an incident that took place while the owner was walking the dog. Since the dog was very large, Klotz said, the owner had a difficult time controlling the animal at times and would take off its leash for a short period. It was during one of those instances that the Mastiff reportedly bit another dog.

That incident was not reported to authorities at the time but was mentioned months later following a second incident in which the mastiff, unleashed at the time, bit an older man during a walk on the afternoon of Nov. 2, causing significant bite injuries that required medical care and several stitches to repair.

Following that incident, a complaint was filed and during the hearing held Jan. 6 at the Washington City Justice Court, the judge ruled that the dog was aggressive and ordered Russell to surrender the animal by 5 p.m. on Jan. 12, at which point the dog “Monte” would undergo a third-party evaluation to determine if the dog was a danger, Klotz said, or if the aggression was specialized to certain conditions.

In this 2020 file photo for illustrative purposes only is the Washington City Justice Court located within the city offices located on North 100 East, Washington City, Utah, April 3, 2020 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

During the hearing, Russell allegedly told the judge he could not surrender the dog because he had shot the animal after the incident in November. The order of surrender remained in effect and the defendant was also ordered to pay a fine as well as restitution to the victim.

Over the course of the next few months, neighbors began hearing the same type of incessant barking coming from the Russell residence and, knowing the dog was supposed to have been shot months before, they started videotaping the barking and the footage was later turned over to police. On Monday, an animal control officer returned to the residence and while speaking to Russell, the suspect allegedly started arguing with animal control and refused to turn over the dog.

When the police arrived, Russell continued to refuse to turn the dog over and was arrested shortly after 2:30 p.m. for providing a false statement to the judge during a court proceeding, “which is basically perjury,” Klotz said.

The dog was retrieved by animal control officers and transported to the shelter to undergo the evaluation as ordered by the court in January.

Klotz said the owner told officers he didn’t turn the dog over because he thought the animal would be “put down right away,” even though they continued to tell him there was an evaluation by a third party that would take place before any action was taken. Klotz also said there are times when other arrangements can be made for an animal as long as the animal is deemed not to be a danger to the public or to any other animals.

He said the owner was attempting to make arrangements to send the animal to family members in Oregon, but the evaluation would still need to be completed first before the dog can be released. Otherwise, he said, they would run the risk of sending a potentially dangerous animal to another state where it could possibly injure someone else or another dog.

Russell was transported and booked in into the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility.

Ed. Note: A new Utah law generally prohibits the release of arrest booking photos until after a conviction is obtained.

This report is based on statements from court records, police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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