Friday, July 13, 2007

Stephen Ragnar Ramstadius, charged with animal cruelty, says: 'It got out of control'

GEORGIA --  For eight days straight, Linda Underwood caught cats in traps outside her home and called animal control to get the felines who had overrun her Oak Grove Circle neighborhood.

On Wednesday, animal control officers caught 41 more, many of which were kittens, inside the house across the street. The house, which also contained two dogs, had ammonia levels at toxic levels and was declared a health hazard by the health department. "Twelve months ago, I had four cats. It got way out of control," homeowner Stephen Ragnar Ramstadius said as he loaded belongings into his truck in the rain. "I want to apologize to my neighbors because I'm sure it hasn't been pleasant." Ramstadius asked police officers, who obtained a search warrant Tuesday, to take possession of his animals, said Cpl. Darren Moloney spokesman for the Gwinnett County Police Department. Ramstadius, who Moloney said is about 45, has been served with 43 animal neglect citations, misdemeanors which carry maximum penalties of $1,000 fine and 30 days in jail for each count, according to the police. Moloney said investigators believed more cats were inside the residence, when officials left the scene after noon Wednesday. Non-lethal humane traps were set inside the home and will be checked daily, he said. All of the animals were taken for treatment. "The ultimate goal will be to rehabilitate all of the animals so that they will be fit for adoption," Moloney wrote in e-mails. "It will be a while before anyone will be able to adopt these animals. They are all going to a vet for a thorough examination. These things take time." Underwood, who lives across the street from Ramstadius, sat on her porch with neighbors to watch as HazMat, fire, animal control, health and police officials searched the house and trapped animals Wednesday. With a trap in her front yard, Underwood said neighbors have tried to protect property for months. One neighbor even put an electric fence around her garden to keep the cats out. "They use my flower bed as a litter box. They sleep on my lawn furniture, tear up my wicker," Underwood said, adding that she's allergic to cats. "It's just been cat after cat after cat." While they weren't happy about the publicity for the community, neighbors said they were glad to see the authorities at the house Wednesday. The smell, they said, had already improved. "It's something to be concerned about," Quay Taylor said of the toxic fumes in the house. She said Ramstadius had lived in the neighborhood more than 10 years ago and had been married until about six years ago. While she and Underwood said they did not know him well, they said they believed he worked on computers from home. But on Wednesday, Ramstadius was forced to leave. According to Moloney, officials will meet with the homeowner today to discuss steps that have to be taken before the house can be habitable again. Vernon Goins, spokesman for the Gwinnett Health Department, said he expected some extreme measures to be required, including removing the flooring, sheetrock and ceiling. "The feces and insects, fleas and such, we are concerned about carrying disease," Goins said. "This is the third time we've required something that extreme in the county, to strip it down to the two-by-fours." Goins said there were dead animals inside the house, although Moloney could not confirm that. "It's always sad to find someone in that situation because they are trying to do good but it's misdirected," Goins said. "I'm afraid it's gotten more and more common."

(Gwinnett Daily Post - July 12, 2007)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Woman Hospitalized After Vicious Dog Attack

TEXAS -- A Lubbock woman is in surgery after being attacked by a German Shepherd Monday morning. That dog is now in the custody of Lubbock's Animal Control.

Lubbock's Animal Control responded to a number of animal bites over the weekend, including two serious ones. Now two male German Shepherds remain in the custody of Lubbock's Animal Control for the same reason, attacking and causing significant harm to their victims.

"This is the first time I've heard of him really biting anybody," says neighbor Yolanda Ingold.
A German Shepherd allegedly attacked 31-year-old Beth Cory as she was going to her mailbox at 73rd and Hickory. An ambulance took her to UMC with bites on both her legs as well as one to her right shoulder, bites that now require surgery.

Neighbors claim the dog has been violent in the past.

"The girl that he attacked, it was her dog that he killed," says Ingold.

Cory's family members say the German Shepherd killed Cory's Boston Terrier just three months ago.

And for the most recent attack, Kevin Overstreet, Director of Lubbock's Animal Control, says the dog's owners will receive a citation.

"Pet owners are responsible for making sure their property is secured and that animals aren't able to get out and if for some reason they do we have to hold them accountable," says Overstreet.

And a new law will do just that beginning September 1st. Pet owners could face third degree felony charges and face two to ten years in prison if their animal viciously attacks a person.

But those charges probably wouldn't apply to another attack in Lubbock this weekend; in that case, a different German Shepherd attacked a postal carrier attempting to deliver mail in the 1900 Block of 73rd Street.

"A small child had opened the door and at that time the dog exited the residence and attacked the postal worker," says Overstreet.

The postal carrier was taken by ambulance to Covenant where he received 100 stitches to the face.
"We really feel like the animal was protecting its property," says Overstreet.

In either case the city wants to remind pet owners of the rules.

"We do have a leash law in the City of Lubbock and that's covered by our city ordinance. It's so important for people to be mindful, especially if they have an aggressive animal, to make sure they are not able to get outside the fence or home and if they do have them outside to have a leash on the animal," says Overstreet.

Violating the pet leash ordinance could result in a fine of up to $200.

Overstreet tells NewsChannel 11 Animal Control has responded to 237 animal bite incidents since January first of this year.

Beth Cory, the woman who was attacked Monday morning, remains at UMC Monday evening.  The postal carrier who was attacked on Saturday has since been released from Covenant and is recovering at home this evening.

(KCBD - July 9, 2007)