Resident Expresses Concern Over Neighborhood Dogs

BERLIN – A sudden increase in pit bull ownership in the Flower St. neighborhood of Berlin has resident Phyllis Purnell concerned enough to go to the Town Council.

Purnell told the council on Tuesday that an increasing number of teenagers in her neighborhood have acquired the dogs, which have a reputation for aggression, and she fears that they cannot control the animals.

Purnell recounted an incident that happened to a neighbor, who felt menaced by loose pit bulls early one morning as he was attempting to leave for work. The dogs would not let the man in his car, she said.

Mayor Tom Cardinale advised citizens to call the police department if a dog problem occurs outside animal control’s hours.

“Dogs are not allowed to be off their property unattended, and not in someone’s care and charge,” said Police Chief Arnold Downing.

All dog bites should be reported to the police, he said. Of the nine dog bites reported to police in the last 12 months, two were inflicted by pit bulls, Downing said. Both dogs were euthanized.

No dog bites have been reported in Purnell’s neighborhood or nearby, he said.

Two bites were reported this week, both inflicted by Labrador retrievers. Criminal charges are being filed against one owner because the recent bite was the second reported by the dog.

“We have not seen an influx of problems with any one breed or type of dogs,” Downing said.

Purnell said she is concerned that the pit bulls she is seeing in her neighborhood, which seem to still be young, will be too strong for their owners to control when they get bigger.

“This is getting to be a threat,” she said. “You don’t know what an animal’s going to do. It’s their nature.”

Everyone deserves to have a pet, but they must be kept secure, Purnell said. She is now afraid for her own Chihuahua.

“I can’t let him go outside anymore because those dogs will swallow him whole,” Purnell said.

Purnell said she does not believe that the young men with the dogs are looking for canine companionship.

“”I think it’s a power thing,” she said. “I don’t think they’re nice little pets.”

Although the dogs are young, she wondered if they would be used for dog fighting in the future.

“It’s a growing trend to get pit bulls to fight, to bet on,” Purnell said.

Downing said that none of the dogs seen by patrol officers have scars or wounds indicative of fighting.

“We just want the problem monitored,” said Purnell.