Schmoke signs ordinances clamping down on city dogfights, vicious canines

June 06, 1998|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke signed ordinances yesterday prohibiting residents from holding dogfights in Baltimore while also giving the Health Department more power to crack down on repeatedly vicious dogs.

Over the past few years, police and animal control have reported an increase in the number of dogfights staged for betting. Under the new measure, anyone found pitting one dog against another for fighting faces a fine of up to $1,000.

Schmoke signed into law an ordinance that will allow the city to destroy dogs found repeatedly to be vicious. The measure will result in the creation of a vicious dog review board that can order an animal involved in three attacks to be destroyed.

The laws also will make it illegal to train attack dogs in Baltimore.

"We now have a lot more options of getting those dangerous dogs off the street," said Wendy Royalty, legislative liaison for the Health Department.

The vicious dog measure was initiated by West Baltimore Councilwoman Agnes B. Welch, who was bitten by a roaming dog in March. Welch began researching the bill in 1994 after a Northeast Baltimore infant was killed by a pit bull.

Over an 18-month period ending last year, the city recorded 1,300 dog-bite incidents. The infant's great-grandmother Julia Matthews was present for the signing at City Hall. Matthews pushed for the legislation, often carrying a picture of her grandson to council meetings.

Pub Date: 6/06/98

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