Dog owners guilty after dog mauls 5-year-old; animal to be confined when outside - East Idaho News
Crime Watch

Dog owners guilty after dog mauls 5-year-old; animal to be confined when outside

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DRIGGS — Two Teton County residents are guilty of two misdemeanor crimes of “keeping a dangerous dog” and received two years of probation following a brutal attack that sent a 5-year-old boy to the hospital.

Trent Dayton and Joey “Lisa” Dayton, who live just outside of Driggs, were each charged with one count of possessing a dangerous and at-risk dog following the April 6 attack.

During the bench trial on Sept. 7 in front of Magistrate Judge Jason Walker, Teton County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Lauretta Welch said the Daytons’ dog crossed the fence and entered the neighboring yard of John and Jessie Vrabrec. The dog was able to gain access because of a large amount of snow that had accumulated along the fence line on the Daytons’ property. She said the dog then went after the Vrabrecs’ son Sawyer.

Sawyer was airlifted to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center after the Daytons’ dog mauled the boy. The child sustained severe wounds to his face, legs, arms and eye.

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The Daytons received a suspended sentence of 30 days jail, a fine of $100 plus court costs and two years of probation. The conditions of probation specify the Daytons must keep the dog confined in a secure, locked enclosure when outside; maintain adequate snow removal to prevent the dog from jumping over the fence; keep the dog on a secure leash when off the property; install a clear “Beware of Dog” sign on the property; and provide the Teton County Sheriff’s Office with a color photo of the dog to keep on file.

The court also reserved the right to order the dog to be humanely put to death and impose jail time if the Daytons violated the terms of their probation.

The Daytons may be ordered to pay restitution to the victim’s family for medical bills and other economic losses sustained as a result of the crime. The Teton County Prosecutor’s Office has 90 days from the verdict to file a motion for restitution itemizing the losses sustained.

John Vrabrec did not wish to comment on this story but said that his son was doing well. A community GoFundMe buoyed the family, netting more than $16,500 after the attack. In April, Jessie said that Sawyer was wearing his snowsuit and winter jacket on the evening of the attack, and she credits that with saving the little boy’s life.

In April, John asked Driggs elected officials to tighten up dog ordinances and consider hiring an animal control officer.

Driggs Mayor August Christensen told a committee of elected officials called the “Council of Governments” have been meeting regularly and talking about ways to address dog-at-large cases around Teton Valley. The Council of Governments is made up of three valley mayors — Christensen, Victor Mayor Will Frohlich and Tetonia Mayor Brent Schindler — and Teton County Commission Chair Cindy Reigel. Department staff are invited to these meetings, as well as the Teton County Sheriff Office.

RELATED | Local boy home from hospital after dog mauling

“Everyone is concerned, and everyone wants to do something,” said Chirstensen while speaking of dogs in the valley. She acknowledged while the Vrabrec case was not the norm for the area, dogs roaming without a leash or collar can chase children and or bite a person.

“There are a lot of dogs in the city and county that are just loose,” she said. “Dogs escape their yards because the owners don’t keep them fenced up. Everyone has a story where they or a family member has been scared or chased or bitten by a vicious dog. A lot of the people in the community want to do something. Now that the number of people (living here) is increasing, it’s just not sustainable for (dog) owners to feel that it is fine for them to let their dogs loose.”

Christensen said the council is looking at a variety of ways to address the community including ramping up education, looking at hiring a private animal control person or funding an animal control position through government funding.

Riegel said the county would not be funding an animal control officer at this time. The county commissioners set the sheriff’s budget, which has already increased from $1.24 million in 2018 to $2.24 million in 2024, according to the county clerk’s office. This does not include dispatch and jail services.

“We still need more money to cover basic law enforcement services without adding the additional expense of a specialized officer with a specialized vehicle and specialized equipment who may not even be on duty when an incident occurs,” said Riegel.

“If the cities of Victor and Driggs want an animal control officer, they can fund one,” she told “The county is already maxed out on our general fund budget since the state caps counties at a 3% budget increase from property tax each year, even when growth and inflation exceeds that. Victor and Driggs have local option sales and lodging taxes, in addition to property taxes, that allow them much more flexibility to fund an animal control officer. The sheriff’s office already responds to calls and addresses vicious dog issues as needed, like they did with the case you are referring to.”

Teton County Sheriff Clint Lemieux has maintained that he would opt to fund another deputy over an animal control officer.