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Three pit bulls deemed vicious and dangerous in the death of a dog

August 02, 2011|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com

Terry Porter's dog had bite wounds on its throat, ears and legs when its lifeless body was found in the snow last February.

Porter said Buddy, a 6-year-old black Labrador retriever, was stalked and killed Feb. 22 by three pit bulls who lived near his Mills Road home on the outskirts of Sharpsburg.

"The paw prints ... They were circling him," Porter said shortly after the attack. "The more a dog attacks, the more brazen they get. It's only a matter of time before they go after a human."

Porter admitted that Buddy was running loose the night he died, but said that doesn't take away the fact that the pit bulls killed his dog.

Paul Miller, executive director of the Humane Society of Washington County, said an animal-control officer followed dog tracks in the snow to determine that the pit bulls lived on property owned by Denesa Churchey, who resides at 4209 Mills Road.

When called for comment, Churchey referred questions to her Hagerstown attorney, Bernard Semler. A representative from Semler's office said Thursday that he didn't want to comment for this story.

Miller said that although no one saw the attack, the dog tracks leading to the Churchey residence provided enough circumstantial evidence to conclude that the pit bulls were responsible for Buddy's death. As a result, Humane Society officials deemed the dogs vicious and dangerous using the guidelines of the Washington County Animal Control Ordinance.

Among other things, the ordinance states that vicious and dangerous dogs must be confined to a secured enclosure and cannot be let out unless they are leashed and muzzled.


Miller said Churchey is appealing to have the vicious and dangerous label lifted from the dogs.

Assistant Washington County Attorney Kirk C. Downey said he couldn't comment on the case, but the Washington County Attorney's Office would represent the county's interests.

He said a date for the appeal has not been set.

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Correction

The version of this story that was printed Sunday’s Herald-Mail and in an earlier online version incorrectly stated that one of three pit bulls owned by Denesa Churchey that was involved in the February death of a Labrador retriever near Sharpsburg was confiscated and was being held by the Humane Society of Washington County. The Humane Society is holding a dog owned by Churchey’s son that was deemed vicious and dangerous in connection with a separate incident, Humane Society spokeswoman Katherine Cooker said.

The Herald-Mail apologizes for the mistake.

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