May 18, 2017

It was an American bulldog’s aggression that caused the dogfight a year ago that led city leaders to expel the dog from town, a judge decided this week.

The dog’s owner, Eric Renze, 41, appealed a Carroll City Council decision in July to label the dog “vicious,” which under city code requires the dog’s removal from town or its death.

Renze had argued that the bulldog was provoked by the other dogs it fought on May 30, 2016, and that the council was biased in its decision because the owner of the other dogs is the town’s police chief.

His attorney argued that Chief Brad Burke’s barking dogs were at fault for the fight even though the bulldog went onto the Burke’s property, which has an electronic fence that shocks the dogs if they leave the property.

The bulldog broke free from Renze’s son’s grasp as the boy walked it that day.

“It was only after the Burke dogs ran toward Harley (the bulldog) that he became defensive and went over to the Burke dogs to sniff them and check things out,” Renze’s attorney, Jamie Hunter, of Des Moines, wrote recently to a judge. “Even if this court does not find that the Burke dogs took the first bites, the undisputed facts still show that Harley was provoked.”

But the boy’s account of the dogfight changed.

“No mention was made of the two Burke dogs biting Harley first in (the boy’s) affidavit submitted to the council at time of appeal,” City Attorney Dave Bruner wrote to a judge. “These are very different and important facts that were changed by” the boy.

Burke ended the fight when he smacked the bulldog with a shovel, grabbed it and tossed it into the street. One of his dogs required four stitches and at least six staples to heal.

A deputy sheriff investigated the dogfight and concluded it was the bulldog’s fault. District Judge William Ostlund agreed on Monday when he upheld the council’s decision.

“While (Renze) argues that the Burke dogs provoked (Renze’s) dog by barking, it was the aggressive attack of the Renze dog that caused the incident,” Ostlund wrote.