John Martorelli

John Martorelli tends to his dogs on Saturday. On Friday night, a dog attack at his home took the life of a puppy.

A viral video taken in St. Joseph on Friday night is prompting at least two city council members to rethink the city’s ordinances.

Two different city agencies are also considering their legal options after a graphic video showed a pack of dogs attacking and killing a puppy, according to St. Joseph city council member Brian Myers.

The video was taken by Mandy Kay and posted to Facebook. The incident occurred on a property near 19th and Lafayette streets.

The owner of the dogs, John Martorelli, confirmed Saturday morning that the attack took place. He said when he arrived home from work, the police and animal control were at his property.

According to Martorelli, animal control told him he was in compliance with all city rules.

“This has never happened before,” Martorelli said. “My dogs don’t go around killing each other or any other dogs.”

In an interview with News-Press NOW, Myers said he wanted to assure residents of the area that the council does not tolerate these types of incidents. However, Myers confirmed that Martorelli was not facing any sanctions as of 1 p.m. Saturday.

“We are taking this very seriously,” Myers said. “Several of us (council members) are reviewing city code in terms of dog breeding and in regards to vicious dogs.”

Martorelli denied selling dogs, and said he believed the attack was promoted by the puppy interacting with one of his dogs that was previously injured.

“If somebody would’ve had the balls to come in here and stop it, it wouldn’t have gone down,” he said. “But I understand they don’t know what to do when dogs are fighting.”

Martorelli also denied neglecting the dogs, of which eight are remaining at the property.

“These dogs aren’t vicious and everyone is making these dogs out to be vicious,” he said.

City Council member Madison Davis said he wasn’t sure city ordinance hadn’t been violated and suggested strengthening the city’s rules.

“If you look at the ordinances we have now, my opinion is some of those things need to be looked at,” Davis said. “I imagine some of those things certainly apply here.”

“It’s just what we can do as far as getting evidence and move forward with that,” Davis said. “Is it tough enough? I’d say the people who watched that in their neighborhood, they’d say no.”

When asked if modifying city ordinances could impact everyday pet owners, Davis said many of his family members had pets, and that Friday’s incident lacked basic care for animals.

“They have to have adequate control,” he said. “My opinion is that there’s no adequate control of the situation.”

Martorelli said his animals are micro chipped and have had all of their vaccinations. He added that he gave one dog away on the night of the incident to a friend, but is hesitant to give other dogs away to people who he doesn’t know.

Through a spokesperson, the St. Joseph Police Department denied extensive involvement in the matter.

“It is an animal control issue!” Jeff Wilson, a captain with the police department, said.

Myers said he’s requesting the city’s health department launch an investigation. Martorelli said he lives in a mobile home trailer on the property.

During an interview with News-Press NOW, children could be seen playing with the remaining dogs under the supervision of adults.

“They got out of the kennel last night and an accident happened,” Martorelli said. “Everybody blew it out of proportion and made it worse than it was.”

Matt Hoffmann can be reached


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