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HUMANE SOCIETY Director asks city to help pay for security cameras



Published: Thu, July 28, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The city hopes the county will help pay for the cameras.

By VIRGINIA ROSS

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- The director of the Lawrence County Humane Society said she is concerned about pit bull owners breaking into the facility to retrieve dogs police have seized during drug raids, and she is asking the city to help pay for surveillance cameras.

Cindy Mittica, humane society director, told council Tuesday that unlike a stray dog, which can be adopted out or put down after a certain amount of time, a dog being held as evidence in an alleged crime or investigation has to be held at the facility until the case is resolved.

"And where do these dogs go?" she said. "They come to us."

High cost

Mittica said the cost for the surveillance cameras and installation is about $8,500. She said she does not expect the city to pay the entire bill.

Council intends to vote on whether to make a contribution at its public meeting tonight. Earlier this month city police raided a South Side house and seized seven pit bulls they found in cages there.

Police said the dogs apparently were neglected and abused and had no food or water. The dogs were taken to the humane society on Pearson Mill Road. Mayor Wayne Alexander said as the city becomes more vigilant in its efforts to identify suspected drug houses, he foresees more pit bulls being seized during police raids at those residences.

He said he also planned to ask Lawrence County commissioners to help pay for the cameras.

Mittica noted surveillance cameras would also allow workers at the facility keep a closer watch on the animals there so they would quickly realize if any of the dogs were to get loose.

Animal ordinances

The humane society has 15 adult and seven puppy pens inside the building and four outside holding pens. The nonprofit organization rents its site from the city for $1 a year.

Mittica told council about 90 percent of the pit bulls housed at the facility come from the city.

Last year, concerned about the number of pit bulls in the city, council asked city solicitor Paula Cialella to review the city's animal ordinances and look into drafting a measure that would regulate pit bull ownership.

Cialella said she does not believe that the breed can be outlawed and that trying to do so could be viewed as a violation of the owners' constitutional rights.

But council can enact an ordinance requiring special permits for owners and permit fees, she said.

Earlier this year she presented council with a draft of the ordinance that addresses pit bulls, American pit bulls and Straffordshire terriers, which are the three categories the American Kennel Association delineates as dangerous.

Council is looking to enact the proposed ordinance within the next few months.




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