Sunday, March 19, 2017

Pennsylvania: Victim wants dog declared dangerous, pit bulls banned

PENNSYLVANIA -- A resident wants a dog that attacked him and his wife last month declared dangerous and put down, or at least quarantined, he told the township supervisors on Monday.

Thomas J. Conlin also asked the officials to consider banning pit bulls, the same breed of dog that attacked and bit the couple, causing his wife, Marie, to fracture her leg, as they were walking on Maple Street on Feb. 22.

Conlin said that was the second time the dog has bitten someone.

Debra Whelan, who also was at the supervisors’ meeting, was bitten by the same dog in March 2016, he said. She showed a photo of a puncture wound on her arm and said the dog bit her through two shirt sleeves, one of them corduroy.

“Nancy Whelan’s case was never cited,” Conlin said. “It happened last March. I was the second attack, my wife was the third.”

John Graham, a state dog law enforcement officer, cited the owner of the dog, Samarjit Sidhu, of 304 Maple St., for allegedly harboring a dangerous dog and for allegedly failing to have the dog under reasonable control Feb. 22 in the 300 block of Maple Street.

The dog was identified as a male American red-nosed pit bull terrier, reddish brown and 2 years old, according to the citations.

Conlin said they saw the dog running loose with its leash trailing before it attacked.

“The dog ended up biting me first,” Conlin recalled for the supervisors. “He bit my arm. I punched him in the face.”

But the dog then bit his wife, on the hip and pulled down, causing her to fracture her leg, he said.

“My wife was brutally bruised,” Conlin said. “That dog has more protections than us human beings.”

He told the township officials that there is no dangerous dog ordinance in the township.

“I’m not a dog hater,” he told the supervisors, noting he has owned a black Labrador and a golden retriever. “I’m asking you to look at your zoning law. We citizens are unprotected.”

Supervisor Bill Lynn told Conlin he looked into the issue and the dangerous dog citation means the owner can plead guilty or contest the ruling. If the dog is found to be dangerous, the owner has 30 days to give up the dog, put it down or, if he keeps it, to put it in an enclosure, place a muzzle when its outside those confines and also buy a $50,000 surety bond.

According to the law, the owner also must obtain a license and register the dog at a cost of $500 per year, post warning signs, pay court-ordered restitution to victims of the attack, implant a microchip in the animal and have it spayed or neutered.

However, Pennsylvania’s Dangerous Dogs Law, enacted in 1990, prohibits municipalities from banning specific breeds, according to the township solicitor’s research.

Supervisor T.S. Scott said people should be able to walk the streets without fearing an attack from a dog.

“I empathize with how you feel,” he told Conlin. “You feel emotional. We’re all frustrated by this. But if we outlaw pit bulls, what’s to say the next day, it’s a German shepherd.”

Scott said the attacks have more to do with a particular dog than with a particular breed.

Supervisor Chairman Ken Woodruff said the supervisors need to look at the township ordinance.

Township Police Chief Sean McGinley said he spoke with Graham, who told the chief he would help the township with its dog policy.

The chief also noted that those who are licensed to carry a gun can use deadly force on a dog if it is attacking.

(Daily Item - Mar 15, 2017)