Wild & stray concerns forcing Port Arthur to focus attention after runner forced to stab dog

Published 12:40 am Wednesday, September 1, 2021

A Port Arthur resident said he is routinely attacked by dogs while running outdoors and was recently forced to stab one of the animals.

The need for more teeth in city ordinances pertaining to unleashed dogs was discussed Tuesday night during the Port Arthur City Council meeting.

“I’ve increased my amount of activities outdoors, and I’m having a continuous issue of unleashed dogs as I’m walking or running,” said Ivan Mitchell. “I’ve been attacked twice so far.”

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Mitchell said he runs three to four times a week in the area of Gulfway Drive and the seawall, five to six miles at a time.

“Over the last — probably I’m going to say, let’s say 18 months — just the dogs that have come out at me… it’s completely out of control,” he told council members during a hybrid meeting where some were in chambers while others attended remotely. “I guess I’m frustrated with the situation. I’ve reported this on numerous occasions with different dogs. I just don’t see any resolution.”

Mitchell said he’s been assaulted by dogs of all size.

“All dogs have teeth, and all dogs have the ability to bite you,” he said. “Ultimately I don’t want to get bit.”

Mitchell listed a number of dangers — from diseases to physical injuries — that can occur from dog bites.

“When I’m accosted by a dog while I’m running,” he said, “it’s a very, very scary situation.”

The runner said most of the dogs he encounters are not strays but come from their yards.

“I’ve had to,” he said before pausing, “unfortunately, I’ve had to stab a dog recently.”

He then showed the Council a still photo from video footage he said was taken near Rev. Dr. Ransom Howard Street, formally known as 7th Street, where a child left a bus and appeared to be running from two dogs.

“As she’s getting off the bus you can see in the top picture — you’ll see the little girl is running in the street,” Mitchell said. “…In the top picture she’s running in the street.”

He described the photo and said as the child exited the bus, two dogs nearby were visible.

“Extremely dangerous,” he said. “Thank God there were no vehicles coming by because…she darts directly in the street, not looking anywhere. Not her fault; she’s scared.”

Ivan Mitchell said he used to use a knife with a 3” blade to fend off dogs. (Courtesy photo)

Mitchell said he’s been attacked twice by dogs in the last two weeks.

“When I say attacked, I’ve had to defend myself physically,” he said. “I actually run now with a weapon on me.”

He had been using a knife with a 3” blade, and “cut” a dog he said he attacked him.

Realizing the knife required close contact, Mitchell now carries a police asp — a baton used in law enforcement.

“It’s ridiculous that people won’t lock up their dogs,” he told council members.

He then emphasized he is not “anti-dog,” but only wants pet owners held accountable.

Councilwoman Charlotte Moses told Mitchell the City has been working on those ordinances to strengthen them.

“We have an ordinance committee and they’re working on the ordinances (that are) in the process of being revised and updated,” Moses said.

Councilman Cal Jones added a unique perspective to the situation.

“We do have a wild dog or stray dog problem in the city,” Jones said. “Matter of fact, I saw you running from one one day on 5th Street. You didn’t see me. I was riding around on 5th Street…and a little dog was chasing you.’

Jones concluded by saying, “We have to address this once and for all. We have a serious problem in this city.”

Ivan Mitchell now uses a police asp — a baton used in law enforcement — to help fend off dogs.