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Law Enforcement's Failure to Respond to Barking Dogs Results in Trauma All the Way Around in Ewing, New Jersey
Trenton Times - Trenton, New Jersey - Written by Krystal Knapp - Thursday, November 25, 2004
EWING - The owners of two pit bulls that attacked a small dog and two township residents last month have been ordered to pay more than $10,000 in fines and compensation to the victims, a judge ruled yesterday.
The judge ordered that one of the dogs, a pit bull named "Lady," be destroyed by the township, officials said.
"Tiger," the other pit bull involved in the Oct. 17 attack at the River Edge Apartments, died shortly after the incident as a result of a shotgun blast, officials said. The attack was so vicious and Tiger was so strong that police had to shoot the dog twice to halt the onslaught.
Township Health Officer Allen Lee said he hopes the ruling sends a strong message to residents that they should properly control their dogs or be prepared to face harsh consequences.
"This is not the first problem we've had with a pit bull," Lee said. "We have another case pending right now and we've had other complaints. The breed is generally vicious. Dogs are terrorizing our neighborhoods and it is only a matter of time before something else happens. Our message is clear. We want people to know that we will not tolerate homeowners who don't abide by the law."
Municipal Court Judge Roger Haley fined Nadine Vernon, 48, of Country Lane and her son, Derrick Vernon, after they were found guilty on four counts of allowing their pit bulls to run at large without leashes, four counts of excessive barking and two counts of not licensing the dogs, Lee said. They were fined $50 for each count, plus $35 in court fees for each violation for a total of more than $800 in fines, Lee said.
After listening to testimony from victims Julie Colaianni and Wanda Korpusinski and eyewitness Asia Brooks, Haley ruled that Lady was subject to the state's vicious dog law and should be humanely euthanized by the township, Lee said. The Vernons have 20 days to appeal the case and Lady will not be killed until after that time, Lee said.
The judge also ordered that the Vernons pay more than $10,000 in restitution to the two victims, Lee said. Colaianni incurred $4,000 in veterinary bills for her dog, Murphy, and $3,900 in medical bills for her own injuries that include permanent scarring.
Colaianni and Korpusinski lost $1,500 in wages for the time they had to take off from work because of the incident.
Haley will hold another court hearing to review the terms of the restitution, Lee said.
Colaianni, 26, was walking Murphy, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, on a Sunday night when the two unleashed pit bulls pounced on the little dog, then attacked her. According to police, Nadine Vernon and a 15-year-old boy apparently had taken the dogs out of Vernon's apartment for a walk without a leash.
Korpusinski, 58, was attacked when she tried to assist. The Hamilton resident was visiting her daughter at the apartment complex when she heard Colaianni calling for help.
The dogs did not stop their attack until police fired at them. Both women were taken to a Trenton hospital for puncture wounds and other injuries. Murphy was taken to an animal hospital.
Colaianni, who has moved to New York since the attack, could not be reached for comment last night. Lee said both the owners of the pit bulls and the victims were distraught in court yesterday.
"Everyone was upset," he said. "People were wiping away tears, even the victims. It was upsetting for the victims to have to recall the attack."
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