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Couple heading to court over dog attacks

December 10, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

A Funkstown couple's frustration with local laws governing vicious animals is taking them and a neighbor to court in January.

Richard Mulligan and his wife, Annette, of 49 W. Maple Ave., have filed charges against Ed Venoy who lives at 24 Cemetery St. According to Washington County District Court records, Venoy is charged with three counts each of animals running at large and having nuisance animals.

The Mulligans said they decided to go to court because their dog has been attacked twice by the same dogs and the dogs' owner has been allowed to keep them.

Venoy said his dogs got loose while he was at work on the day of the second attack, but he criticized the Mulligans for allowing their dog to run loose as well. He also said he has repaired a fence around his yard since the incident.

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Richard Mulligan said their Pomeranian, Kipp, was first attacked on June 4 while Venoy was moving in. Mulligans said he and his wife were walking with their dog in the neighborhood when it was set upon by Venoy's pit bulls.

The Pomeranian's medical bills were $45, which Venoy agreed to pay after several months, the Mulligans said.

Annette Mulligan said that on Nov. 22 her dog was on the carport beside her home when Venoy's dogs came onto her property and attacked the Pomeranian.

Kipp was rushed to the office of veterinarian Dr. Robert Cody, who used 60 stitches to close a wound in the back of the 3-year-old Pomeranian's neck.

"We videotaped the injuries and took still photographs," said Annette Mulligan. She plans to take those with her to court along with about 15 neighbors who witnessed the November attack.

Contacted at home, Venoy said: "I admit my wrong. But they should too."

Venoy also plans to bring witnesses to court in January.

A youngster who saw the Nov. 22 incident wrote a letter to Funkstown Mayor Robert Kline and the Town Council asking them to adopt a vicious dog ordinance.

In the letter, Brandon Showe said he and his dad were on their way to a Boy Scout meeting on Nov. 22 when they saw two pit bulls attacking a Pomeranian and went to help.

A check with Funkstown Town Hall Friday afternoon revealed the letter hadn't been received, but Town Clerk Brenda Haynes said she had received a phone call.

The Washington County SPCA and Deputy Kevin White also responded to the Nov. 22 incident.

That's when the Mulligans discovered limitations of violent dog laws in Washington County.

"The law doesn't allow us to remove a vicious dog," said Keller Haden of the SPCA. "While the law says it is unlawful to have a vicious dog, all we can do is issue a ticket to the dog owner if we see the dog running at large."

Haden said the SPCA has gone to court before and the judge said the agency doesn't have the authority to remove a vicious dog.

A change in Section 38E of the Washington County Animal Control Ordinance will be necessary to allow such action. Talks are going on between SPCA officials and the County Commissioners to effect that change, Haden said.

The change would allow animal control officers to seize an animal if the officer feels it is necessary to protect the public and other animals, Haden said.

The Mulligans' court date is Jan. 27 at 8:30 a.m.

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