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SHARPSVILLE, PA. Dog owner questions shooting



Published: Wed, April 10, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The district attorney said police acted properly in dealing with the animals.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

SHARPSVILLE, Pa. -- The Walnut Street man whose two American pit bull terriers were killed by police March 29 plans to circulate a petition asking that police explain their actions.

Gene Blair, 23, maintains that Shaft and Foxy Brown were not aggressive dogs and had no bite history.

Police Chief Bruce Rosa said he was forced to shoot both animals when they approached him in an aggressive manner, one about a block from its home and the other in its owner's yard.

Blair had said at one point that he was contemplating a lawsuit against the police and borough but said Tuesday he has decided instead to circulate a petition outlining a list of questions he feels Rosa should answer.

He said he hopes to collect 1,000 signatures but isn't certain to whom he should present the document.

What's on petition: The petition should be ready for circulation within two days, Blair said, noting that, among other things, it will ask why a veterinarian's report indicates one of the dogs was shot from behind, why Rosa called one of the dogs by name before shooting it and why the local animal control agency wasn't involved in trying to control the dogs.

Atty. James Epstein, Mercer County district attorney, said he has reviewed the case at Rosa's request and determined that Rosa did nothing wrong.

"My conclusion is that he acted within the law and appropriately," Epstein said, pointing out that the dogs did confront a woman, who was seven months pregnant, and her 2-year-old son before they were chased off.

The dogs were unlicensed, had no collars, were running at large and couldn't be controlled, he said.

Blair said he faces a hearing at 11 a.m. April 18 before District Justice James McMahon on four citations filed by police and the Shenango Valley Animal Control Shelter.

No licenses, rabies shots: One charges him with disorderly conduct for his behavior after he reached the scene of the shootings and the others charge him with failure to confine the dogs, failure to update their rabies vaccinations and failure to have them licensed.

Blair admitted that he had let the licenses expire and had failed to renew the rabies vaccinations but he has denied letting his dogs run loose. They were in a locked outdoor kennel when he and his girlfriend left for work on the morning of March 29, he said, suggesting that someone intentionally let them out.

Blair said the rabies and license citations also apply to a third pit bull he owns that was in the house at the time of the shootings.

He said he has since renewed that dog's license and has scheduled a trip to a veterinarian to get the rabies vaccination updated.




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