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S. Hill residents complain about their fear of a pit bull

Published November 16. 2011 05:01PM

Some Summit Hill residents told the borough council this week they are living in fear from a pit bull.

Ruth Gardiner said her mother lives in the unit block of East White Street. She said the mother is afraid of the dog, a neighbor is afraid, and she and her two children are scared.

The mother, Diane Templer, alleged the dog got into her yard three times, and twice grabbed her pet terrier by the throat. She said she got the larger dog to release its grip one time by hitting it with a can, while the owner called it the other time.

Gardiner said Templer and a neighbor of hers, Gina Robertshaw, have filed complaints with the police seven times since July 13 about the dog.

Chief of Police Joseph Fittos assured that the complaints are being addressed and the owner of the dog will be cited.

Gardiner pleaded with the council for assistance, stating she is afraid if nothing is done she will be bringing to the borough hall medical bills for her mother, the mother's pet, or her own two children, ages 13 and 16, who cut grass and do other chores for her.

She pleaded with the council to pass an "absentee landlord ordinance as fast as you can," so that council might have more authority to address the issue with the owner of the dog, who rents the home in which he lives. The home is owned by someone from Scarborough, N.Y.

The council is hoping to pass such an ordinance next month.

Robertshaw had attended last month's council meeting to complain about alleged frequent barking by the dog. She told the council, "After last month you assured me something would be taken care of."

Fittos again assured her he is working on the matter.

"We certainly don't need an ordinance for violations that have been committed," interjected councilman Bill Chapman.

Gardiner said there have been three incidents of aggression shown by the pit bull, asking if this shouldn't constitute some sore of action by borough officials.

"Once is too much," responded Council President Joseph Weber. "You're talking about an animal that is very dangerous in my opinion."

Fittos said that according to reports he has received, there was one instance where the dog stuck its head through the fence. He said a dog becomes dangerous if it jumps over the fence.

Templer said the pit bull had her dog by the throat. "Luckily I had a can in my hand and hit it."

"This is a police issue and we are handling it," said Fittos. He said if there is a determination made that the dog is dangerous, then it can be removed.

Gardiner asked if having the terrior in its jaws two times doesn't make the pit bull dangerous.

"There is a process," said Fittos. "You just don't take a dog out."

The borough's solicitor, Attorney Joseph Matika, agreed, stating, "There must be a conviction before the next step can be taken. The conviction has to be made by a local magistrate."

Templer responded that this is what happens when you read in newspapers about someone attacked by a dog and nobody did anything. "I don't want to be dead," she said. "I don't want to be attacked. I don't want my dog to be dead."

Weber told her, "Whether we agree or not, we have to follow the law. In my opinion, the dog has more rights than you or I."

Attorney Matika said the short-term solution is for an arrest to occur and the dog's owner to be convicted. He said, "Police must cite the dog's owner."

"Right now it's in the police's hands," Weber told those complaining. "We have the word from the chief of police that he'll do everything in his power."

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