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Commission OKs pit bull sentence

July 04, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

A pit bull that attacked two dogs will be sent to a rescue group rather than euthanized, under the first decision handed down by a five-person group assigned to hear appeals to the county's vicious dog law.

Two members of the group, including Chairwoman JoAnn Overington, told the Berkeley County Commission of their 4-1 recommendation Thursday morning at the commission's meeting.

The commissioners make the final decision on what to do with dogs that are declared vicious.

The pit bull on April 6 attacked a 13-year-old dog, which required veterinary care, and another dog on June 18 that did not, Overington said. The pit bull, an unneutered male, was seized by Berkeley County Animal Control officers after the second attack.

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The dog's owner, Sherry Corathers, filed an appeal the next day.

Corathers attended the County Commission meeting to hear the board's decision. She dropped her head when Overington announced that board members declared the dog vicious, but nodded when Overington suggested a pit bull rescue group take it.

Sending the dog to a rescue group was appropriate, Overington said, because the animal has never shown aggression toward people.

Corathers told the commissioners that she would appreciate it if they would allow a rescue group to take her dog, so she does not have to tell her 8-year-old child that the dog was killed.

The commissioners agreed that a rescue organization can take the dog.

Corathers pleaded guilty to citations charging her with having a vicious dog and allowing a dog to run loose, according to animal control officers. The pit bull broke its chain before attacking the older dog, they said.

Corathers said she has more dogs and plans to erect an 8-foot stockade fence to ensure they do not leave her yard.

Lennie Pendergraph, vice-chairman of the nuisance appeal board, was the sole person who voted not to declare the pit bull vicious.

"It's not the dog's fault," he said after the meeting.

The appeal board hearing involving the pit bull - the first for the volunteer board - was held June 25 and included written statements from the owners of the dogs that were attacked and testimony from animal control officers, Corathers and a witness, Overington said.

Three other dogs also have been declared vicious, including one that bit two people, Overington said. Because their owners did not file an appeal, those dogs were euthanized.

Board member Carolyn Bishop has 14 days to find a rescue group willing to take the pit bull. In the meantime, Corathers asked for and received permission to visit the dog, which is being kept at the Berkeley County Animal Control facility.

Berkeley County's vicious dog ordinance took effect Jan. 1.

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