Homeowner's unhappy when stray dogs move in next door


  • Sandtown-Winchester resident Randall Martin says stray dogs enter the boarded-up rowhouse next door through a large hole on the ground floor.
Sandtown-Winchester resident Randall Martin says stray dogs… (Baltimore Sun photo by Amy…)
March 14, 2010|By Liz F. Kay | liz.kay@baltsun.com

The problem: Stray dogs have been taking refuge in a boarded-up house in Sandtown-Winchester.

The backstory: Randall Martin considers himself a dog person, but he wasn't happy with his new neighbors.

Months ago, a stray dog started taking shelter in the vacant house next to his home in the 1100 block of W. Mosher St., and it was soon joined by other canines.

Over time, as many as six dogs were staying there - mostly pit bull mixes.

"That's a pack," he said.

The house has been boarded up since he was a child, Martin said, but the dogs were able to enter through an opening in an addition on the back of the building.

"During the snow, you could see the trail of footprints," Martin said.

The homeowner feared the dogs were breeding. He started calling 311 and the city housing department in June and kept the confirmation numbers for his service requests.

Brian Schleter, a spokesman for Baltimore's Health Department, which includes the Bureau of Animal Control, said enforcement officers responded on three occasions to complaints at that address in December.

The officers saw dogs enter the hole but could not go in themselves because of fears that the house was unsafe, he said. They decided that dog traps were necessary, but when contacted, someone in Martin's house declined to take responsibility for them, Schleter said.

Animal Control asks residents to pay a $25 deposit for traps and to monitor them, contacting the bureau after an animal has been captured. They make exceptions for financial hardship, he said.

Animal Control relies on help from residents because the bureau has only 13 officers to handle all requests for assistance, Schleter said. Officers responded to more than 31,800 calls in 2009, he said.

Samuel Moore, the bureau's acting director, pledged to contact Martin directly to waive the fee so the traps could be set, Schleter said.

He said an Animal Control supervisor had contacted the Baltimore housing department to board up the hole.

But housing officials have no record of requests from Animal Control to inspect the hole, said Tania Baker, a housing department spokeswoman. A housing inspector who went to the house in June did not see dogs or the hole but did request that the Department of Public Works cut high grass and weeds, she said.

Baker said the housing department will work with Animal Control as well as the public works department, which handles sanitation, cleaning and boarding-up requests, she said. However, the dogs must be captured before the hole can be covered.

"We'll definitely coordinate efforts and work on getting this resolved," Baker said.

Who can fix this: Michael Braverman, deputy director of code enforcement for the Baltimore housing department, 443-984-1806. City residents should call 311 to report problems.

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