Complaints prompt crackdown on canines

Officers sweep area of Pioneer City, issue citations, seize dogs

Severn

May 22, 2001|By Johnathon E. Briggs | Johnathon E. Briggs,SUN STAFF

Animal control officials say their agency is dogged by Pioneer City residents' complaints of pit bull dogs running loose and of illegal dogfights.

In response, county police and animal control enforcement officers combed the Severn community during the weekend for animal violations, seizing 12 dogs and issuing 21 citations to animal owners as part of "Operation Dog Gone."

"Whether we seize two dogs or 12, anytime we do a blanket sweep of an area where we've had complaints, it's successful because it makes us visible," county animal control administrator Tahira S. Thomas said yesterday. "This was one of our stronger days."

The surprise inspections began at 9 a.m. Saturday in Pioneer City and ended five hours later after two PACT officers and two animal control officers made door-to-door visits to hundreds of residences on Arwell Court. PACT, which stands for Police and Community Together, is a Western District unit that patrols neighborhoods off Pioneer Drive.

Of the 12 dogs seized, eight were pit bull types, police said. They all were taken to the county animal control shelter in Millersville, county police reported. Officers issued citations to animal owners who apparently had failed to obtain licenses, rabies vaccinations or provide adequate shelter for their dogs.

Several "animal at large" citations were also issued. Police said a violation for operating an illegal kennel will be turned over to the county Department of Zoning.

Operation Dog Gone aims to crack down on irresponsible owners in areas where dog fighting occurs. Animal control officials hope such owners will be dissuaded from engaging in illegal dogfights after being forced to invest time and money complying with county regulations on licensing, vaccinations and animal living conditions.

Saturday's sweep was the fourth time in four years that county police and animal control officials have worked together to take action against animal owners, Thomas said. Along with finding animal violations, officers handed out information to residents about county animal regulations.

"We hear about dogfights and the aftermath of dogfights," Thomas said. "By the time we get there, we don't actually see it, but you can tell from the bite marks that the dogs have been injured in some sort of fighting."

The inspections occurred 10 days after a 2-year-old Brooklyn Heights toddler, Jasmine Nikole Powell, suffered life-threatening neck injuries when the family pit bull dog leaped a 3-foot gate in the kitchen, ran into her bedroom and grabbed her by the throat, her father, Ronald O. Powell Jr., told police. She is expected to recover.

Thomas said her agency fined Powell $80 on April 30 for failing to license and provide proof of rabies vaccination for the dog, which also had attacked a 5-year-old Baltimore girl.

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