Health chief seeks limits for pit bulls

Commissioner calls for owner permits after girl is mauled

`Just an outrage'

Escaped dog's owner has 10 past citations for animal violations

January 14, 2001|By Joel McCord | Joel McCord,SUN STAFF

In the wake of a pit bull attack on a 7-year-old girl in Southwest Baltimore, city Health Commissioner Dr. Peter L. Beilenson proposed yesterday stringent controls on the dogs.

The attack Friday on Kasey Eyring, who was visiting her grandparents in the 900 block of Brunswick St., was "just an outrage," Beilenson said. "This happens far too often."

It would be "almost impossible" to get a ban on pit bulls through the City Council, he said, so he recommends requiring pit bull owners to have permits to keep the dogs and that the dogs must be spayed or neutered. Animal control officers would destroy any pit bulls they found that didn't have the permit.

Spaying or neutering the dogs would prevent pit bull owners from breeding the dogs, he said. He said he is unsure whether the Bureau of Animal Control can require the permits or whether the City Council must act.

Kasey was in critical but stable condition in the pediatric intensive care unit at University of Maryland Medical Center last night with severe bites to her face. Her injuries were not thought to be life-threatening.

She was attacked about 7 p.m. when the dog, one of two grown pit bulls kept at a nearby house, escaped through a hole in a fence and latched onto her.

Frantic neighbors beat the dog with sticks and rocks to rescue Kasey. The dog was destroyed by the Bureau of Animal Control because of its injuries. Police said they were continuing to investigate.

Beilenson said the dog's owner, Norman Jenkins, also of the 900 block of Brunswick St., had been given 10 citations for violations of animal ordinances, including not having the dog vaccinated against rabies and not keeping it on a leash.

Kasey underwent five hours of surgery Friday and was to undergo more operations today, said her grandmother, Elizabeth Koros.

Rose Halligan, Kasey's aunt, said she had seen the hole in the fence around Jenkins' yard last summer.

"Why does it take that long to fix something?" she said. "If you could just see [Kasey's] face, you wouldn't believe what a dog could do."

A woman who answered the door at the Jenkins house, but did not identify herself, said: "We're very sorry about what happened to the little girl. Our hearts go out to her family."

Neighbors said they have called Animal Control officials repeatedly to complain that Jenkins was allowing the dogs to run free in the neighborhood.

"I've called eight or nine times in the last three months," said Harry Gillespie, of the 2600 block of Eagle St., which runs beside the Jenkins house and was the scene of the attack.

Beilenson said Animal Control records show four calls from the neighborhood since Thanksgiving for dogs being loose. None of the calls specified pit bulls, and all of the calls were anonymous.

The woman at the Jenkins house said none of the neighbors had spoken to them about problems with the dogs and said she is "unaware of any accusations."

The dog that attacked Kasey was "the father" of a litter of puppies, the woman said. "The mother" remains in the house, but "we sold the puppies. It was a one-time thing," she said.

The city requires people who keep more than two dogs in their home to obtain kennel permits, but "with only 17 animal enforcement officers to take care of several hundred thousand animals, there's not much you can do about it," Beilenson said.

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