Pit bull's owners ask Howard board to spare dog's life despite complaints

June 22, 1999|By Jamal E. Watson | Jamal E. Watson,SUN STAFF

A North Laurel family pleaded last night with the Howard County Animal Matters Hearing Board to spare the life of one of its pit bull dogs after county police recommended that the animal be put to death because it poses a threat to neighbors.

Vincent and Teresa Gibson of the 9500 block of Washington Ave. asked the board to release Diamond from the county animal shelter. Diamond was captured last month by an animal control officer after it allegedly escaped from the Gibson's property and attacked a neighbor's 6-pound Yorkshire terrier.

"Diamond is a family pet. She is a friendly dog that wouldn't hurt anyone. We haven't had any problems," Vincent Gibson said.

Last night was the third time the Gibsons have appeared before the board because of problems with their dogs.

In the past year, residents have lodged more than a dozen complaints against Diamond. Last month at a North Laurel Civic Association meeting, county police Chief Wayne Livesay told residents that he believed Diamond was dangerous and hoped the Animal Matters Hearing Board destroyed the dog.

Also last month, Vincent Gibson appealed a $600 citation after the couple's other pit bull, Cinnamon, was captured by an animal control officer. The board eventually reduced the fine to $50.

Vincent Gibson said he believes someone might have freed Cinnamon from its chain and called authorities to report the dog.

For months, the Gibsons have charged that neighbors have been targeting the family because they are black. Neighbors say the Gibsons' claim of racism is unfounded.

The board will have 30 days to determine Diamond's fate and whether the couple must pay a $750 citation issued by an animal control officer.

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