Saturday, July 16, 2005

No leave for cop who shot turtle

PENNSYLVANIA -- As people question why a police sergeant shot and killed a snapping turtle last week, a municipal police training commission recommends the sergeant be placed on administrative leave or administrative duty while an investigation is conducted.

Police Chief John McNeil says that’s nonsense.

“It’s like if an officer decides to shoot a deer hit by a car, it’s his decision.”

McNeil, who was at a conference for the Police Chiefs Association in Valley Forge this week, said he does plan to review Sgt. Len Galli’s report but will not put him on administrative leave.

“I was absent during the incident and only knew about it from the papers,” he said. “I will read his report and move on from there.”

McNeil said a specific report must be filled out whenever an officer fires a weapon.

“If a gun was discharged at a human, the incident would be handled in a totally different way, but it was a turtle,” McNeil said.

Beverly Young, of the Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission in Harrisburg, said Monday she does not know the specifics of the incident, but the commission teaches officers to only use force if there is an endangerment of life or property.

“I hope he had a nightstick or contacted animal welfare before discharging the weapon.”

The turtle, estimated to be 50 pounds, was found in the Wyoming Avenue yard of James Fino on the morning of July 8. First Fino tried to poke the turtle away with a broomstick, but the tortoise quickly snapped the stick in two.

When Galli took over, he attempted to pick it up. The turtle nearly bit the sergeant’s back, so he fired two rounds into the turtle’s head.

Young said if the shooting involved another human, the officer would immediately be put on administrative duty. But the policy on discharging a weapon on an animal is different for every department.

Galli did not return calls for comment for this story.

(Times Leader - July 15, 2005)

6-day-old killed by family dog

RHODE ISLAND -- The parents of a 6-day-old girl killed by the family dog on Wednesday at first thought the child was only slightly hurt, according to police.

Coventry police say the father of Alexis McDermott told them he got a call from his wife on Tuesday morning saying something was wrong with the baby.

Scott McDermott said he returned home and he and his wife, Cindy, checked on Alexis. Cindy had found a small amount of blood on the baby's head, but Scott McDermott told police when they examined the baby together, it appeared the wound was minor, as the bleeding had stopped, according to a news release from Coventry police.

Cindy's mother came to the house, and the three decided to drive the baby to the hospital. Alexis stopped breathing on the way, and the family brought her to a West Warwick fire station for medical help.

The baby was taken to Kent County Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

An autopsy determined the baby died from "injuries to multiple internal organs and internal bleeding due to blunt force trauma" from multiple dog bites, police said.

Police said Scott McDermott told them his wife said she had left the baby in a portable crib while she went into the kitchen. She heard Alexis crying and returned to find the baby on the floor with the dog, a male Husky, nearby.

Cindy McDermott has not yet spoken with police. They said she is too upset to meet with detectives.
Coventry police released a statement Thursday, but did not return phone calls seeking further comment.

No telephone listing for the family could immediately be found.

The dog is being held by animal control. Its fate has not been determined.

Police said Scott McDermott told them there had been no problems with the dog in the past and the dog had not shown any aggression to the baby since she came home from the hospital.

While dog attacks are not the leading cause of injury to children, they are also not uncommon, said Dr. Michael Shannon, director of emergency services at Children's Hospital in Boston.

"Just in the past month, I've seen at least five children with serious injuries from a dog," he said.

Children's behavior makes them more likely to provoke an attack than adults, and their size makes them more vulnerable because an attack on a child more likely to hit a vital organ, Shannon said.

Maria Wah-Fitta, a spokeswoman for Rhode Island Department of Health, said the department tracks childhood deaths, and a review of those records since 1998 found no instances of death by dog bite.

Of 27 people who died from dog bites in 1997-98, 19 were children under the age of 15, according to data on the Web site of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC says children - and boys from 5 to 9, in particular - have the highest rate of emergency department visits stemming from dog attacks.

(Sun Journal - July 15, 2005)

Friday, July 15, 2005

Three Norcross men allegedly responsible for 37 pit bull being neglected

GEORGIA -- Three Norcross men allegedly responsible for 37 pit bull dogs are being held without bond on drug charges while officials determine whether the trio will also face animal cruelty charges.

Officer Darren Moloney, spokesman for the Gwinnett County Police Department, said police are waiting until a doctor has had a better chance to look at the animals and assess their condition before deciding whether to charge Tyrone Laval Drayton, 19; Raymond Barry Washington, 25; and John Holmes, 21, with cruelty to animals.

A Gwinnett Animal Control officer arrived at the 6089 Williams Road residence Tuesday morning to look into reports of animal cruelty.

Upon arrival, the officer observed multiple pit-bull dogs, several of which appeared to be severely physically neglected, police reports said.

The officer also saw what appeared to be marijuana when he made contact with the men, at which point he detained them and obtained a search warrant.

Police reports indicate some of the puppies were suffering from severe malnutrition and a veterinarian at the scene said the animals were exhibiting signs consistent with neglect and physical cruelty.

There were also several shallow graves in the backyard of the residence where the remains of a puppy were found in a black, plastic garbage bag.

Moloney said one puppy was currently under a doctor's care because it was in pretty bad shape, but it appeared it would live.

"I was shocked when I arrived at the scene," Moloney said. "It's hard to see anybody doing anything like that to animals."

Neighbors of the men also expressed feelings of shock when they found out how many dogs there were.

"Why would someone have 37 pit bulls?" Leon Vuong said. "I'm glad someone called, but I feel bad for those dogs."

"I'm thankful Gwinnett County stayed on the ball," Phyllis Harris said when told there were 37 dogs. "But I had no idea there were that many. I thought there were about six."

Neighbors also said they are relieved that police intervened because the dogs were becoming a nuisance.

"It was really annoying because we heard those dogs barking all the time," Vuong said. "Maybe now we'll have some peace and quiet."

Harris, whose property backs up to that of the three men, said that she sometimes heard gunfire in the middle of the night and in the afternoon coming from that residence.

Moloney said police had been looking into the residence for some time for alleged drug activity.
The three men are being held in police custody on drug-related charges.

Animal cruelty charges of the first degree carry a maximum year in jail or a fine of $5,000 or both.
Moloney said police were not yet sure of what would happen to the dogs and they were being held by animal control as evidence.

(Gwinnett Daily Post - July 14, 2005)