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February 28, 2013

Dog on ‘death row’ after biting owner’s aunt

NEW CASTLE — The days are numbered for Dro the pit bull.

At 9:30 p.m. Monday, the 2-year-old dog bit Ramona Dabney’s face in the living room of her home at 209 N. Crawford Ave.

By order of animal control warden Tom Wharry, Dro is now in quarantine in the basement of the Crawford Avenue house, tended by his owner, Jahmia Ward, 21, of Charlotte, N.C., Dabney’s nephew.

No longer wishing to share a home with the dog, Dabney has temporarily moved in with a sister.

Ward had come north to look after his ailing aunt a few months ago. He thought adding a dog to the family was a good idea.

“Her house was broken into and absolutely ransacked on Sept. 11, he said. “Recently, someone tried again.”

Ward said he is preparing himself for March 7 — the day the quarantine is lifted and his dog will have to be put down.

He said the 10-day order was given to determine if Dro has rabies.

“This dog is healthy but there’s no question that he’ll have to go,” Ward said. “I really like him but I won’t have the option to keep him. He’s got to go.”

Ward said he got the dog about four months ago from a West Side family. Dro was unable to get along with one of the other dogs. He said the owner was hesitant to give him the dog.

“She said she didn’t trust him but he and I got along just fine.”

Ward said he knows and respects the breed.

“By nature they are aggressive, but if you treat them well they’re not mean dogs. I hate to see people raise pit bulls the wrong way.”

He said he’s owned and trained pit bulls without problems. “But he’s not the kind of dog you play with,” Ward said. “He’s aggressive if he doesn’t know you, but I never thought he’d just go after someone unless he was threatened.”

Ward said it’s possible his aunt inadvertently did something to prompt the attack.

He said the dog had been sitting on the couch. His aunt told Dro to get off, which he did. Ward said she then placed a pillow on the floor for the dog.

“She put her hand on him, to force him down. He growled. I thought he barked at her but he bit her face. It happened so quick. It was shocking. He bit her lip almost all the way off.”

Ward’s mother, Regina Washington of Charlotte, N.C., is not as charitable toward the dog or the local practice of keeping them in the owner’s home pending a diagnosis of rabies.

“That vicious dog is locked in the basement and throwing itself at the door,” she said. ”And they said we’ll be in trouble if anything happens to it.

“My sister should not have had to leave her own house while that dog takes over. We are being treated very unfairly.”

Washington said her sister spent 10 hours at Jameson Hospital and left with multiple stitches in her face.

In other areas, dogs that attack are taken into custody by animal control personnel, Washington said.

“They told us there was no room for it at the humane society.”

In North Carolina, she continued, such an animal would have been euthanized immediately. “But under North Carolina law, you have to buy expensive permits to have a pit bull. It does not pay to keep one.

“New Castle should change its laws regarding these vicious dogs before someone gets killed.”

New Castle Police Chief Bobby Salem said quarantining pets in the owner’s home, even after an attack, is the local custom.

“If they want to get it out of the house, they can call Jerry McCarthy at the district attorney’s office to take it off their hands if they are afraid of it.”

Salem said Wharry is in Harrisburg at a training session and currently not available.

(Email: nlowry@ncnewsonline.com)

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