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Dogs' killings prompt bill

February 05, 2009|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

ANNAPOLIS -- The killing of two dogs in Williamsport has prompted a bill being considered by the Maryland General Assembly that would make it illegal to kill a dog that is chasing deer.

The Washington County delegation voted Wednesday to enter the bill. The law is in place in at least seven other Maryland counties.

Jeffrey Hurd, of 11845 Camden Road in Williamsport, was found guilty in November of two counts of mutilating an animal and two counts of malicious destruction of property under $500 for killing dogs on his property in 2007 and 2008.

Washington County Circuit Judge W. Kennedy Boone III, who issued the verdict, sentenced Hurd to 90 days in jail in December for the 2007 shooting of a Labrador retriever and the 2008 shooting of a German shepherd.

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Hurd's defense during the October trial was that the dogs were chasing wild animals, including a deer and a turkey, when he fired the shots.

Defense attorney Lewis C. Metzner read from a state statute that says "any Natural Resources police officer, law enforcement officer or any other person may kill any dog found pursuing any deer" in Washington County.

That statute was meant to prevent people from hunting deer with dogs and did not provide a defense to the crimes with which Hurd was charged, Boone said.

Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington/Allegany, said eight citizens asked him to enter a bill protecting dogs from this type of incident.

The proposed bill would restrict everyone from shooting dogs that are chasing deer.

"There's been cases where people just shoot their dogs," Myers said. "That's wrong. But they say, 'Well, they were chasing deer.'"

Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, said during Wednesday's delegation meeting that if a dog is threatening harm to someone on the property, it is still OK to shoot the dog.

The restriction on killing dogs in Washington County also would apply to Maryland Natural Resources Police. Mooney questioned why officials would not want DNR officers to have that ability.

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