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Couple says dogs are fine with children

July 27, 2003|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

Matthew Baughman was aware that some people train pit bulls to be weapons. But right away, Trinity, a Staffordshire terrier, won his heart.

"I saw her and fell in love with her," he said.

A year later, Baughman bought Tony, an American pit bull terrier, for his girlfriend, Nicole Marshall.

Marshall said she had no notions about pit bulls at first, but soon grew fond of Tony.

Trinity gave birth to 14 pups; only six survived. Baughman and Marshall put them up for sale. Among the new owners were three or four families with children.

Baughman, who lives just outside Hagerstown, and Marshall, who lives inside the city, are engaged and have a 7-month-old son, Matthew Jr. They haven't picked a wedding date; they want to buy a house in Hagerstown first.

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They said Trinity and Tony are fine with Matthew Jr. and other young relatives, even if they tug on the dogs' ears or try to ride them. An adult always supervises.

The dogs are different with strangers. Tony, especially, is territorial and aggressive if someone new enters his home.

On the other hand, "Trinity will let you in the house and steal everything," Baughman joked.

On Thursday, before an interview at Baughman's house, Tony and Trinity frolicked for a camera. Suddenly, Tony lunged at the photographer's face, sending him sprawling backward. Baughman tugged Tony's leash back just in time.

The couple apologized several times, saying they had never seen Tony behave that way.

Baughman, 21, and Marshall, 19, said they confine and leash their dogs, so the city of Hagerstown's pit bull ordinance, if passed, wouldn't affect them much.

But the law forces pit bull owners to have $50,000 in liability insurance, which the couple can't afford - and might not be able to get, anyway.

Baughman said he wants to stay near relatives, but the pit bull law might chase the couple to West Virginia or Pennsylvania to find a house.

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