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County asked to do something about vicious dogs

June 07, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Some people may have Rottweilers or pit bulls for pets, but it doesn't change Darrell Murphy's view of them.

"The only good Rottweiler or pit bull is a dead one," Murphy told the Berkeley County Commission Thursday night.

Murphy was one of several county residents who came to the commission meeting to give their input on a proposed dog nuisance law the commission is drafting.

The proposed law comes after a string of recent dog attacks in Berkeley County.

Last month, a 190-pound Rottweiler attacked a Martinsburg man, requiring him to have surgery for wounds to his ankle, leg and side.

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Within a week of that attack, six other dog attacks occurred in the county, including an incident in which two dogs killed a horse, animal control officers said.

Murphy, who lives in the Vanclevesville area, said one of his neighbors has Rottweilers and pit bulls.

If any such dogs appear in his yard, Murphy said he is turning to firearms.

"If I catch them in my yard, I might go to jail, but I'll shoot them all," Murphy said.

Tammy Stanley told the commission that a pit bill attacked her border collie on March 14 while she was walking the dog near her house on Driftwood Drive in Glengary, W.Va.

Stanley said she believes the long hair on her border collie saved the dog from serious injury.

"We definitely need some type of laws," Stanley said.

State laws protect animals from being attacked by vicious dogs, but they don't protect people or other dogs from attacks, county attorney Norwood Bentley said.

In the recent session of the Legislature, lawmakers gave counties the authority to enact their own nuisance laws, and the commissioners are using the new law to craft their own ordinance, Bentley said.

"We are going to address the problems that you pointed out," Bentley told Stanley.

While there is support for a strong vicious dog law, there is also concern about it going too far.

Deborah Snider told the commission that she uses dogs for personal protection. Snider said when someone comes onto her property that is not supposed to be there, she wants her dogs to bite to protect her.

Snider said she is concerned that any dog law passed by the commission may be too restrictive and imposing on people's ability to have dogs for protection.

Snider brought up Tuesday's fatal stabbing at the Hedgesville, W.Va., post office to make her point. If Cathy A. Crissy would have had a guard dog with her, she may have been able to fight off her attacker, Snider said.

Commission President Howard Strauss said in many cases involving vicious dogs, it's a situation of the owner acting irresponsibly, not the dog.

In addition to the dog nuisance law, the commission is also planning to expand the size of the Berkeley County animal control facility on South Queen Street to give animal control officers more room to keep the dogs they find.

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