City law fails to protect dog's victimsUntil recently I...

the Forum

August 27, 1993

City law fails to protect dog's victims

Until recently I had no reason to be aware of the inadequate Baltimore City laws covering vicious animal attacks.

The police and animal control officials, although sympathetic and supportive, are severely limited in the actions they can take against animal offenders.

Citations requiring home detention and presentation of an animal health certificate do not prevent additional attacks. This was vividly demonstrated when my son was mauled by a dog that was half-Rottweiller, half-German shepherd.

This same animal, four weeks earlier, had attacked an eight-year-old girl in strikingly similar circumstances. Both children were attacked after approaching the front storm door through which the dog escaped. The children innocently went to visit the family daughter and to deliver a birthday party invitation, not to burglarize or vandalize.

Our aim is not punitive toward this family but to seek a legislative change to grant animal control greater leverage to confiscate or quarantine, at the pet owner's expense, an animal that has demonstrated a recent history of repeated vicious attacks.

I am confident many pet owners would relinquish the animals, if the costs to reclaim them were prohibitive. The trauma, both medical and emotional experienced by both of these innocent victims, should be a red flag to all city residents.

The law grants more rights to the animal and its owner than to our mauled children.

Cheryl A. Schmidt

Baltimore

Father Smith

The death of Father Thomas William Smith has deeply saddened us.

Father Smith came to Overlea in the '50s and immediately (and forever) became known as "the young priest at St. Michael's." He personified the name of priest in the same way that Bing Crosby had done in "Going My Way" and "Bells of St. Mary's."

In Father Smith was a new spirit that was fresh and joyful. He was at ease with a group of boys on Saturday morning playing baseball on the old Easter's field and then bringing them over to Bell Drug Store for ice cream cones (and he without collar, just an old sweat shirt and trousers).

He breathed life into Catholic Youth Organization and drew not only the Catholic youth but also others from the community. (I was one of the others, a good Presbyterian who at Father Smith's suggestion became a CYO member.) He shocked some of the stricter folks, who later became staunch supporters.

During his daily meditation walks in front of the church and

school he would be joined by individuals who would fall into his stride -- and talk personally with him, sharing this special time.

He respected the nuns and honored the priests, and his faith seemed to shine through him.

SG He officiated at the marriage of my best friend, visited my in-laws (Lutherans who lived on the same street as St. Michael's) and became a friend to my husband and me.

He was gentle and kind and bursting with energy. We were sorry when he left St. Michael's, but we kept up with his moves and were happy for St. Stephen's when he moved there.

We share their sorrow in his death and pray God's peace for him.

Mona-Lee Bretall

Baltimore

Drug policy

I am writing in support of recent suggestions that drugs should be legalized. If legalization occurred today, we could predict certain events that would take place immediately:

1. Our government would have annually the billions of dollars it now spends in vain on the drug war.

2. Government receipts from taxing a legal drug industry woulamount to billions annually.

3. Our judicial system, including the prisons, would be relieved opressures from non-violent drug users. Violent offenders would be tried more expeditiously, and kept in jail for their full sentence.

. Inner-city gangs and organized crime would be robbed of their main source of revenue.

Drug prices would decline, along with violent crime committed to afford artificially inflated drug prices.

6. Thousands of new agricultural and pharmaceutical jobs would be created to support the drug industry.

Some would argue that the benefits would be offset by the chance that the number of addicts would rise. I would point out that legalization does not necessarily mean advocacy.

For example, cigarette use in this country has declined over 30 years, without the need for criminalization, because of a massive effort to educate the public on its dangers.

History proves that society will always have addicts for every vice, legal and illegal. The only question is whether we are wise enough to take the good with the bad.

Chris Parker

Ellicott City

Helicopter use questioned

A recent incident truly made me wonder how well my tax dollars are being spent at Maryland Shock Trauma and how well the MedEvac helicopter system is being utilized.

On a recent Saturday night, a young man had an accident with his bike on the street beside my house. He was stabilized and handled expertly by the emergency medical technicians who arrived at the scene.

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