Fritz, a proper English springer spaniel who never goes out except on a leash, pleaded "nolo contendere" through his agitated owner, Ruth A. Zeller of Fullerton.
It's true, Zeller admitted, that she occasionally walks Fritz in the alley behind the 100 block of Manor Ave., off Belair Road, where he has been known to deposit his very personal calling card. George Zeller, Ruth's husband, quickly explained that most of Fritz's "business" is done in the couple's half-acre back yard.
One of the Zellers' neighbors, William P. Leicht, complained to the Baltimore County Animal Hearing Board about Fritz's droppings. But Ruth Zeller asserts that Leicht's complaint was merely retaliation for a complaint she filed against Leicht and his dog,Bear. Ruth Zeller accused Bear, a mixed collie-chow, of attacking her and Fritz.
The board heard the case yesterday. Ruth Zeller described the encounter with Bear on March 25 as a terrifying, painful experience. She told the board members that she emerged from her home to walk Fritz and was horrified as the larger, more aggressive Bear jumped from the darkness to land on top of Fritz, who then pulled her down with the leash.
The woman said she was pulled over the rough pavement and street by the struggling dogs and couldn't regain her feet until Leicht appeared to pull Bear off. "My knees still hurt to this day," Zeller said.
Leicht disputed Zeller's story, saying Bear was roused by Fritz and escaped his fenced yard to defend his master, who was taking the trash out to curbside for collection the next day.
Leicht also said he pulled Bear off his neighbor in 15 seconds and claimed that Zeller was never knocked down, despite her testimony and that of her family.
He admitted that Bear was unlicensed, but he said the dog never goes out unleashed. And he said Bear is hardly the 100-pound monster claimed by Zeller.
"He weighs 61 pounds -- that's this 'big monstrous dog' she's talking about," said Leicht.
Ruth Zeller insisted, however, that Bear often runs free and has urinated on her Colorado blue spruce on occasion.
She went on to add that Leicht's account was "all lies" and that he has shown no remorse for Bear's actions.
The board found plenty of blame to spread around. Zeller was fined S25 for failing to clean up Fritz's deposits in the alley. And Leicht was fined $75 for having an unlicensed dog, allowing his dog to run free and for Bear's attack on Fritz and Ruth Zeller.