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SHARPSVILLE, PA. Dogs' owner vows suit after chief kills them



Published: Tue, April 2, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



No one knows how the two pit bulls got out of their kennel.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

SHARPSVILLE, Pa. -- Gene Blair Jr. said he plans to take legal action against borough police for what he calls the "murder" of two of his dogs.

Police Chief Bruce Rosa said he shot the dogs, American pit bull terriers, when they posed what he deemed a threat to public safety near Walnut Street and Mercer Avenue on Friday.

The dogs were running loose, had no collars or tags and one of them, the male, appeared to threaten a pregnant woman and her young son, Rosa said.

Both dogs also came at him aggressively, Rosa said, explaining his decision to shoot them with a 12-gauge shotgun.

Neither dog was licensed in Mercer County, Rosa said.

Owner's contention: Blair, 23, of 352 Walnut St., said he had licenses for his dogs, Shaft and Foxy Brown, and denied that they were a danger to anyone.

"They weren't people aggressive. They weren't dog aggressive. They had no bite history," Blair said, adding that both were 2 years old. Police didn't have to kill them, he said.

A check with the Mercer County treasurer's office showed no current licenses issued to Blair.

Rosa said a woman came into the police station around 1:45 p.m. to report two dogs running loose in traffic at Walnut and Mercer.

When he reached the area, Rosa said he learned that the male dog had confronted a woman who is seven months pregnant and her 2-year-old son as they got out of their car in the 400 block of Walnut Street.

The woman said she feared they were about to be attacked and picked up her son, Rosa said, adding that she said she closed her eyes and refused to look at the dog.

Neighbors saw what was happening and shouted and threw objects at the dog and it moved away, Rosa said.

Rosa said the male approached him in an aggressive manner and came within six feet before the dog lifted its front paws off the ground as though it was about to leap and he shot it.

The other dog: The female then ran back to its home and police followed, trying to contain the dog to the area of the house, he said.

Neither Blair nor anyone else was home at the time. A relative of Blair came and tried to coax the dog into the house, but it refused to enter, Rosa said.

The dog was running back and forth barking at police, and when it made a move as though it was about to attack him, Rosa said, he shot it. It died later at a veterinarian's office.

Rosa said he doesn't know how the dogs got out of their kennel, and Blair doesn't understand it either. He said the kennel gate was padlocked when he and his girlfriend left for work Friday morning.

The lock was unlocked but the gate was still closed when he checked it later, he said.

Rosa said the dogs may have jumped over the kennel fence, but Blair said the tarp covering the entire roof was still in place when he got home.

Blair accused police of roughing him up when he arrived on the scene and tried to find out what had happened to his dogs.

Rosa said Blair was swearing and shouting in a public place and was taken into custody. He denied that excessive force was used to subdue him and noted that Blair's sister, Emily Kettering, 19, of Spruce Avenue, Sharon, was also taken into custody when she tried to interfere with Blair's arrest.

Neither has been charged with any crime.




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