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Tag: washington county

Animal control officer who struck river rescue dog won’t be prosecuted

An animal control officer who struck a dog with his baton, leading to a cracked skull and the loss of an eye, did not use excessive force, authorities in Oregon have concluded.

The officer, Hoyt Stepp, was defending himself against two dogs when he struck Dojie, a river rescue dog who was running loose when the Washington County animal control officer encountered her.

After an investigation by Hillsboro police, the district attorney’s office said there was not enough evidence to pursue animal cruelty charges against the officer.

Protesters gathered outside a news conference yesterday, where the decision not to prosecute the officer was explained, KOIN reported.

“I am convinced that the responding officer followed a reasonable course of action,” said Deborah Wood of Washington County Animal Control.

Animal Services Field Supervisor Randall Covey said the officer followed his training: “…He created a barrier between himself and the dogs, backing up, yelling at the dogs to go home. That did not deter the dogs. Officer Stepp got to the point the dogs were right on him in full, aggressive attack, and at that point Officer Stepp struck Dojie one time to avoid being bitten.”

dojieafter“We are sincerely sorry for the injuries to Dojie but we ask a fair amount of responsibility to lie with Mr. Starr because he did not have his fence locked and his dogs licensed,” Covey said.

Marlin Starr, Dojie’s owner, reported the incident to police after witnesses told him the officer struck his dog, who had escaped from his yard.

While authorities say the dog was struck once, Starr questions how one blow could cause a cracked skull, injured shoulder and complications that led to the loss of one of Dojie’s eyes.

“I am outraged for Dojie and I am outraged for every animal in Washington County. No animal is safe from Animal Control at this point,” Starr said.

Dojie is an experienced river rescue dog trained to help people who fall out of rafts, according to KATU.

She will no longer be able to do that job, Starr said.

Starr said witnesses told him his dog ran into his backyard, followed by an animal control officer, who pulled out a collapsible baton known as a bite stick, and hit Dojie.

The police investigation concluded that the case “did not contain the necessary elements of the crime of animal abuse.”

County looks at giving dogs a second chance

Dogs that attack or threaten people or other pets in Washington County, Maryland, would get 18 months to improve their behavior before being labeled “vicious and dangerous” under changes to the animal control ordinance proposed Tuesday.

Currently, animals can be labeled “vicious and dangerous” after only one attack, which has led to protests from owners who say their pets were otherwise well-behaved, said Paul Miller, executive director of the Humane Society of Washington County, which enforces the ordinance.

The Washington County Commissioners discussed the proposal at their meeting Tuesday, according to the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.

The proposed change creates a separate designation for “potentially vicious and dangerous animal,” under which first-time offenders could take steps to get the label lifted.

Once designated “potentially vicious and dangerous,” an animal would have to be kept confined and would have to complete an approved training course, if ordered. The owner could also be ordered to take a “good citizenship” course. If there were no additional attacks within 18 months, the label would be lifted.

“Vicious and dangerous” animals must be kept confined and muzzled, and animal control officers may impound them if they are in violation. If the owner does not appeal within a specified time period, the impounded animal may be disposed of, the ordinance says.

Puppy found frozen to ground in Hagerstown

A seven-week-old puppy found frozen to a tree in Hagerstown, Md., is being nursed back to health, and the Washington County Humane Society is investigating how he ended up alone in the woods.

The puppy, a German shepherd mix named Duncan, was found Friday behind the North Spring Apartments, according to an ABC2 News report. Neighbors said they heard whimpers and went to see where the sounds were coming from.

Paul Miller, Executive Director of the Washington County Humane Society said that, other than the loss of fur that occured when the pup was freed from the tree, and a skin disorder, Duncan is in good condition and should be ready for adoption in about two weeks.

Miller said the society is getting three times as many calls as they normally do from from people concerned about animals out in the cold with no shelter.

“This is a very disturbing situation,” he said.  “Any young animal should never be left outside for any length of time. This puppy very easily could have died from exposure and hypothermia.”  The puppy is now being taken care of at the Humane Society on Maugansville Road. 

Miller added, “If someone is having problems training or taking care of a young animal please call us and we will see if we can help you work through training issues.  If you would prefer to remain anonymous our website at www.hswcmd.org has a Trainer Talk section that can offer guidance on how to constructively correct behaviors that may be causing problems with your pet.”

The HSWC is asking anyone who may have information about the dog or the incident to contact their Field Services Division at 301-733-2060 extension 203.

Man convicted of killing neighbor’s dogs

A western Maryland man has has been convicted of two counts of animal cruelty for fatally shooting two of his neighbors’ dogs who wandered onto his property.

A German shepherd named Harley was shot in May after he bolted after a rabbit, through a barbed wire fence and onto a neighbor’s property, according to WJZ-TV.

The neighbor, Jeffrey Hurd, of Washington County, had shot and killed another dog, a black lab belonging to the same family, ten months earlier, when it came on his property.

“We need to send a message out that you cannot brutally kill animals like that just for your own enjoyment,” said James Rudolph, whose family owned both dogs.

According to court documents, Hurd fired a high-powered rifle at Harley three times.

Hurd’s lawyer argued his client was trying to protect deer and wild turkeys being chased by the dogs.

Animal cruelty is now a felony in Maryland with a penalty of up to three years in prison. Because Hurd killed two dogs, he faces six years.