A dozen pit bulls seized from Woodlawn home

Addition of animals adds strain to Monkton shelter during holiday


News from around the Baltimore region

July 02, 2005|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

The hotels in Ocean City aren't the only places packed for the Fourth of July weekend. Baltimore County's animal shelter had no vacancies yesterday, thanks to an unexpected contingent of pit bull terriers.

And it couldn't have come at a worse time.

The pit bulls, a dozen of them, were taken to the Monkton shelter after they were seized during a raid of a Woodlawn house yesterday morning. They filled every open dog kennel at the shelter, leaving staff scrambling to find homes for other pets.

The dogs came as the shelter was trying to clear the way for its other Fourth of July guests. History has taught the staff that they can expect about a dozen dogs this weekend. Some break free from their leashes, bolt through screen doors or otherwise panic and get lost when they hear the cracks and booms of fireworks.

"They run as fast they can. And they end up here," said Charlotte Crenson-Murrow, director of the county animal shelter. "This is a bad time to get 12 pit bulls."

The shelter, which has 50 dog kennels and nearly as many for cats, occasionally fills to capacity, Crenson-Murrow said. The staff was already working frantically with animal-rescue groups to find the dogs temporary homes to prepare for the strays that will come in over the holiday weekend, she said.

The shelter's kennels each have indoor and outdoor sections with a gate in between. In the worst case, Crenson-Murrow said they could close the gates and put one dog on the outside and one inside, periodically switching them. "It's not ideal," she said, because the animals wouldn't have the freedom they normally do.

It would also make it more difficult for staff, who are able to put the dogs outside while they clean the indoor part of the kennels and vice versa.

Crenson-Murrow said that despite the crowded conditions, no animals will be euthanized more quickly than they would have otherwise. "If anything, we'd step our efforts to find them homes," she said.

County law requires the shelter to keep stray dogs and cats for four business days before they are euthanized, unless the animal has a serious medical condition, said Crenson-Murrow. Pets whose owners have been identified can be euthanized right away if they have behavior problems or are otherwise determined to be "unadoptable," she said.

During the search of a house in the 2100 block of Park Place about 5 a.m. yesterday, police found 10 pit bulls chained in a large pen in the back yard and two pit bulls in crates in the basement, said Bill Toohey, a county police spokesman. Officers said it appeared that the dogs - some of which were standing in their own feces - had not been fed recently, according to charging documents filed in District Court in Catonsville.

Judging from the treadmills and other equipment in the basement and the injuries on some of the dogs' faces and front legs, officers said it appeared the pit bulls were being trained to fight, the court papers say.

Police said they also found marijuana, according to the charging documents.

Donte Leroy Miller, 33, was charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, possession of drug paraphernalia and animal cruelty, according to court records. Laurence Evan Jones, 20, was charged with possession of marijuana and with making a false statement to an officer. Nicole Theresa Woolfolk, 23, was charged with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to the records. All three suspects lived in the Park Place house.

Police called animal-control officers to take the dogs to the shelter, where they were being washed, fed and examined yesterday morning.

One of the young female pit bulls appeared to be in "pretty good shape," said Crenson-Murrow.

It was clear that the shelter had a full house, she said. Each kennel had paperwork slipped into the plastic covers on the kennel doors. Some were marked with take-home dates. Others, Crenson-Murrow said, were available for adoption.

"Now is the perfect time to adopt a pet," she said. "Kids are home from school. And the pet has time to get acclimated to the family's routines."

Meanwhile, Crenson-Murrow issued a plea to pet owners, asking them not to take their animals to Fourth of July displays - and to watch them carefully when opening doors, especially during the shooting of fireworks.

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