New Castle News

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March 18, 2013

‘We have no dog pound’: Animal under house quarantine after attack:

NEW CASTLE — After her nephew’s pit bull bit her face, it was Ramona Dabney, not the dog, who had to find shelter.

“I don’t understand why the dog got to live in luxury in my house but I had to relocate,” the North Crawford Avenue woman said.

Dabney moved in with a sister for three days after she was bitten on Feb. 25 by her nephew’s dog, Dro. The attack required numerous stitches to both lips and her nose and left Dabney in pain and fearful.

“I’m shaking all of the time,” said Dabney who has an appointment with a plastic surgeon and is being treated for nerve damage caused by the dog bite.

“I can’t eat. I can’t sleep, it’s hard to talk. I want to be myself again.”

Calling herself a strong woman, Dabney said she will overcome her current difficulties. But she doesn’t understand why she — not the dog — had to leave.

By order of police and local animal control officers, the family was required to confine the dog in their home for 10 days — at their expense —to determine if the animal had rabies.

“We have no dog pound,” New Castle police chief Bobby Salem explained. “This is the procedure we follow (after dog bites.)”

ADDITION TO FAMILY

Her nephew, Jahmia Ward, came from Charlotte, N.C., to look after his aunt, who suffers from several medical ailments and was alone in her house after her son left home to go to school in Pittsburgh.

Ward thought adding a dog to the family was a good idea since the house had been broken into and ransacked last fall. About four months ago, he obtained 2-year-old Dro from a West Side family. Familiar with the breed, Ward said he believed he could train the animal for watchdog duty.

“I thought I was making progress until he bit my aunt,” Ward said.

After the attack, Jerry McCarthy, a humane officer who works in the office of Lawrence County District Attorney Joshua Lamancusa, ordered Ward to quarantine the dog  in the house for 10 days to determine if the animal has an illness, specifically, rabies.

Ward cared for the dog for several days at his aunt’s home, but ultimately decided not to put off the inevitable.

Well shy of the 10-day sentence, Dro was euthanized and his brain stem was tested for rabies with negative results.

“I didn’t want to (have the dog put down), but I had no choice,” he said. “My aunt was traumatized.”

The experience hasn’t changed Ward’s love of dogs.

“I will get another dog but not right away,” he said, “And next time I’ll get a puppy so I can train him.”

Lamancusa said his office was called to fill in for Lawrence County animal control warden Tom Wharry, who had been at a training session in Harrisburg when the bite occurred.

“Usually the dog warden protects people from animals. My humane officer gets involved in animal cruelty cases, generally protecting animals from people,” he said.

He added that since the owner voluntarily gave up his dog so his aunt could go home, the animal was put down at no cost to the owner. Generally it is a $400 expense.

Attempts to reach Wharry and McCarthy were unsuccessful.

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