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Woman attacked by big dog favors city registration law

October 11, 2003|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

Robin Pelley looked out of the corner of her eye and saw the dog charging at her.

"He just hit us like a ton of bricks," Pelley, 41, said Thursday, recounting a struggle with a neighbor's dog last Sunday.

The dog, which Humane Society Executive Director Paul Miller described as a male "pit bull-type," was estimated to weigh 80 pounds. It was euthanized Tuesday and sent to a lab for further testing, Miller said.

The Hagerstown City Council is considering an ordinance to require city residents who own pit bulls and similar dogs to register the dogs for a fee. The ordinance, endorsed by Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith, would ban new pit bulls from the city.

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The definition of pit bull and pit bull terrier in the proposed ordinance includes American bulldogs and bull terriers.

Pelley said she had been walking her 20-pound Jack Russell terrier, Jack, Sunday evening. When she and Jack were in the alley behind 949 Maryland Ave., only a few doors away from her home, the large dog burst out of an open door.

Andre Jackson, 17, also of 949 Maryland Ave., said he was outside his home when he saw the larger dog, Petey, rush outside. Jackson said he tried to grab Petey, but the dog was too fast.

Pelley said she grabbed Jack by his walking harness and, just as she turned to run, the other dog jumped, knocking her and Jack to the ground. The next thing she said she remembers is lying on the ground on her back, holding Jack with her left hand and using her right hand to struggle with the larger dog.

"He snapped and bit, and everywhere he bit there was blood. He bit me and tore at my hand, and then he got hold of his (Jack's) neck, and I was screaming for help," Pelley said.

Pelley said she remembers someone calling the dog. Jackson said he remembers his uncle helping remove the larger dog.

Pelley said she underwent surgery Friday on her hand to repair damage from the dog's bite. Jack has been treated for a 2-inch gash on his neck.

Asked if she thought the city ordinance being considered would be worthwhile, she said she thought it would be a good idea. She compared the loose dog to someone with a firearm.

"They might as well have taken a gun and shot it out the back window and shot both of us," Pelley said.

Teresa Tonsil, 29, of 949 Maryland Ave., was watching the dog that attacked Pelley on Sunday for a friend. Tonsil, reached by phone Friday, said Petey always appeared docile, never fought with other dogs and never injured any of her children inside the home.

Tonsil said she believes the ordinance would be effective for a different reason. She said licensing provisions of the proposed ordinance may have helped Humane Society workers find the dog's owner. And if she lived in a place with tall fences, another provision, Petey wouldn't have been able to escape.

"It would have kept him alive," Tonsil said.

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