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Deputies get scare from pit bull

February 10, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The pit bull had pinned Berkeley County Sheriff's Department Deputy T.E. Boyles inside his police cruiser Friday morning, but only managed to sink his teeth into the 27-year-old officer's X-26 Taser dart gun, instead of flesh.

"He bit down and I was fighting to get away," Boyles recounted several hours after he and a few other deputies managed to stun the attacking canine with electrically-charged darts and "hogtie" the dog outside a home in Inwood, W.Va.

Boyles' too-close-for-comfort encounter with the fully mature blue and white dog happened after deputies arrived at 166 Walter Drive to check on the welfare of a man who dispatchers were told appeared ready to jump from the roof of a mobile home.

A Berkeley County Schools bus driver passing by the house told emergency officials the man was waving his arms and thought a suicide attempt was in the making and called for help about 9:15 a.m., police said.

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But as it turned out, the dog that Chief Deputy Kenneth Lemaster named "Bruiser" Friday afternoon apparently pinned the man on the roof of the singlewide trailer two hours earlier, Boyles said.

"... He was walking to his house when the dog got loose and chased him up (a nearby tree) onto the trailer," Boyles said in a complaint filed against the canine.

Within seconds after being warned about the dog by the man on the roof, Boyles said in an interview that he saw a "(blue) and white blur" coming toward he and deputies M.T. Hudson, C. Jones and M.T. Longerbeam.

The officers initially retreated to their cruisers. But when the pit bull turned his attention on one vehicle, Hudson was able to get out of the other and attempted to incapacitate the dog with his Taser when the irritated animal turned toward him.

But Hudson's weapon failed to fire, and Boyles suddenly found himself punching the pit bull in the face and head inside the cruiser after Hudson, 19, left the passenger door open and the dog began attacking his training officer.

At the sheriff's department Friday, Boyles pointed to several tooth marks on the Taser he was finally able to deploy on the dog. While Boyles was fighting off the animal, Hudson said a second attempt to fire his Taser was successful. The deputies eventually were able to restrain the dog with a leash found nearby and a hobble restraint typically used for human prisoners.

The pit bull now is in the custody of the sheriff's department's Animal Control Division and Sheriff W. Randy Smith said a hearing likely will be held to determine if the dog is vicious and should be put down. The owner wasn't immediately identified and was not home when the encounters happened, police said.

Boyles said the victim, who also was not identified, was bitten by the dog, but the canine's teeth did not protrude the heavy clothing he was wearing, and he did not need treatment.

"Pit bulls have been a problem around here," said Smith, who along with Lemaster praised the deputies for showing composure and not killing the animal.

In more than four years with the sheriff's department, Boyles said the pit bull was third canine he was forced to shoot with a Taser, but noted that none of the others managed to get in his police cruiser. Hudson was assigned to work with Boyles after he completed West Virginia State Police Academy training in December.

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