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Dog attacks pony, is shot to death

May 09, 2002|BY SARAH MULLIN and DAVE McMILLION

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

charlestown@herald-mail.com

A Rottweiler was placed lifeless in the back of a Berkeley County Animal Control truck Wednesday afternoon, shot after it attacked a miniature white pony.

Six dog attacks occurred last week in Berkeley County, including one in which a man remained hospitalized Wednesday, and another in which two dogs killed a horse, Animal Control Officer Jason Ahalt said.

Since April 1, 911 dispatchers have received 74 animal-related calls, with 90 percent of those related to dog attacks and bites, Ahalt said.

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The Wednesday incident off Speck's Run Road involved a stray Rottweiler that entered a private barn and attacked a pony in the hind leg area and on the neck.

When Animal Control officers attempted to get the pony out of the stall, the dog went after the officers, who then shot the dog, Ahalt said.

Ahalt said it was not known if the pony would survive the injuries.

"I don't know what is happening in Berkeley County," Ahalt said.

A Hedgesville man was charged Wednesday with keeping vicious dogs in connection with an incident last Friday in which a 190-pound Rottweiler attacked a Martinsburg man at a home in Hedgesville, according to Berkeley County Magistrate Court records.

Leslie D. Cupp, 26, of 6189 Back Creek Valley Road, was charged with keeping vicious dogs and obstructing an officer, court records said.

Cupp was released on $2,000 bond, the court records said.

The attack last Friday occurred after Kenneth Yoder, 34, petted the Rottweiler's head. The dog turned on Yoder, knocked him down and bit him all over his body, causing severe injury to his arms, legs and ankles, according to a criminal complaint filed by Ahalt.

Yoder remained in serious condition at Washington County Hospital Wednesday night, a hospital spokeswoman said.

County Animal Control Officer John Ramos said it is common for animal control officers to receive more calls during the warmer months because people are out more with their dogs, and that leads to more confrontations involving other people and animals.

The increase in bites and attacks may also be related to the rising number of dogs in the area.

Ramos said there are about 8,000 current tags, but thousands of dogs in the county do not have tags.

Berkeley County Sheriff Randy Smith said there are probably 16,000 dogs in the county without tags.

He said state dog laws are antiquated and should be rewritten.

The state code prohibits owning any dog "known to be vicious, dangerous or in the habit of biting or attacking other (people)." Smith said the law is insufficient because "it takes too long" to declare a dog vicious.

"The code was written when we had Lassie and Old Yeller," Smith said. "But now we have dogs called Killer and Satan. These kinds of dogs should not exist in modern-day society."

A Berkeley County ordinance mandates that dog owners must have their dogs on leashes when they leave their properties, but while on their properties the dogs can run loose.

Ramos said the ordinance needs to be modified so that any dog outside, whether on private or public property, would be required to be restrained either by a long leash, electric fence or containment fence.

Smith said the most important change would be to allow Animal Control officers to take immediate possession of a dog once it has bitten a person or another animal.

"We need to write laws to protect the victims, not the dogs," he said.

Ahalt said if a stray dog is taken by an officer, it is held for five days or until it is reclaimed by the owner.

Once reclaimed, it is "taken back to the same place so it can do the same thing over again," he said.

In cases that involve an investigation and court hearings, officers must obtain a court order to hold the dog.

If the magistrate deems the dog vicious, the officers have the right to kill the dog.

Ahalt said during his five years as an officer a magistrate has ordered that two dogs be killed.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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