Arwell Court in Severn is home to roaming dogs and some owners who fail to control them, endangering others, according to county police, property owners and residents.
"There are more complaints in that area than anyone else in this district," said Officer Stephen M. Torbeck of the Western District, referring to reports of incidents ranging from attacks on people by dogs to dogs that are running loose.
Police handed out 21 citations to dog owners in Warfield III on Jan. 14 for cruelty, failure to provide shelter, failure to obtain a current license and for letting animals run loose.
The penalties were part of a one-day effort by five police officers, a detective, a volunteer reserve officer and two animal-control officers to visit each home in the neighborhood to explain laws regulating animals, inform people of a county rabies clinic scheduled next month and to look for violations.
During that sweep, animal-control officers seized a pit bull terrier that was tied to a short leash behind a house in below-freezing temperatures. The dog had a torn ear and other injuries that might have been caused by fighting, Torbeck said.
Animal-control officers have seized about 50 dogs in similar condition from the area over the past year, according to figures Torbeck obtained from the animal-control agency.
Police had received complaints about organized dog fights in the neighborhood off Pioneer Drive, but that problem seems to have died down in the past year, he said.
Nearby communities such as Meade Village and Warfield Townhomes have largely stopped their problems with roaming dogs by banning the animals, but Warfield III, comprising about 130 townhouses, has taken few steps, Torbeck said.
Community regulations there require dogs to be on leashes, require owners to clean up after the animals, prohibit nuisances that disturb neighbors and impose fines up to $100 per violation, said Vicki Burnett, a property manager with Victory Management.
But the rules are hard to enforce, she said, because officials have to see the violation occur or find witnesses willing to go on record. One or two fines have been issued in the past year for dog-related violations, Burnett said.
"I know that there is a dog problem out there," Burnett said. But "it's harder to impose fines on something like that than parking."
Without a ban, police and animal-control officials say, they have focused on prevention by educating residents and urging them to have dogs vaccinated.
Sean Bradley, who has lived in Warfield III for seven years, applauded the educational effort but said dogs are not as big a problem as police say.
"It's a lot of dogs running loose, but they are not causing a problem," he said. "The name 'pit bull' causes a problem."
Bradley breeds pit bulls and sells the puppies for as much as $250 each. The dogs may be bred to fight, but if owners keep them on leashes and separated from other dogs, they don't pose a danger, he said.
Evelyn Golden said aggressive dogs are one reason she and her family are ready to move out of the home they have rented for three years.
Shortly before Christmas, several dogs attacked her family's 10-month-old Labrador retriever-Rottweiler mix while her husband had the dog on a leash outside a friend's house.
"My dog ended up with a big old gash in his neck," she said.
She keeps her children inside when she sees dogs running loose near her house, she said.
Golden's landlord, Mohammad Zuberi of Ellicott City, said many renters who own dogs do not have permission from the property owners. "I think the dogs should all be licensed, and they should all be getting shots," said Zuberi, who owns 70 units in the community. And he wouldn't mind seeing pit bulls and Rottweilers banned from the community, he said.
Pub Date: 1/21/97