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News

Dog attack leads to call for more penalties

10/25/12 | By Nathan Brunet, Staff Writer

BISHOPVILLE — A Bishopville woman is mounting a campaign to elicit stronger punishments for dog owners who allow their pets trespass on private properties, after two great danes owned by a neighbor entered her property and killed her dog earlier this month.

“The attack just left us with such a loss,” said Carla Canakis, who lost her 6-year-old papillion, Boo, on Oct. 1. “I’m hoping to get the laws changed so people take better care of the animals.”

Canakis said that morning, she let Boo out to run in her Cedar Creek Road yard that is protected by an electric fence, as she routinely does every day. A man who was working at a property across the street later stopped by to inform the owner he saw her dog being attacked and dragged away by two dogs that entered her property.

“He asked if I had a furry dog. After I replied yes, the man told me he was gone.”

“Did he escape out of the fence?” she asked.

“No,” he replied, “he’s gone.”

While Canakis was having difficulty figuring out exactly what was going on, the man explained further.

“He got flustered, and then told me my dog is being eaten,” she said.

Canakis, in shock, immediately called 911.

By the time local police and Worcester County Animal Control arrived, Boo had succumbed to its attack. The dog had been mauled so violently, officers told Canakis not to look at the body.

“Our sons are having such a hard time with the loss. The brutality of it all was just so unexpected,” Canakis said. “There is a different aura in the house, now.”

Lisa, the owner of the two great danes that were deemed a potential threat by Worcester County Animal Control after the attack, was forced to pay a $200 fine — $100 for each dog.

According to Susan Rantz, chief animal control officer of Worcester County Animal Control, the punishment is strictly for trespassing, and the charge does not change whether an attack occurred or not.

The grieving family does not believe that is punishment enough.

Canakis has filed criminal charges against Lambright with the Worcester County District Court. The trial is scheduled for Dec. 4.

“I’m afraid to get another dog,” Canakis said.

She later met with Worcester County Commissioner Jim Bunting, where it was discussed that in Wicomico County, dogs are quarantined for 45 days after such an incident.

Canakis told Bunting she would be willing to attend the next county commissioners’ meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 7, to discuss the issue.

A representative from the county commissioners’ office said the agenda is not prepared until a few days before the meeting, thus he could not confirm if the subject will be an official discussion during the November meeting.

Bunting was not available for comment.

Chief Rantz said that although her department cannot amend any laws, she is in support of a change.

“There should be a higher penalty for a dog that [has] been attacked and killed, versus a dog running at large,” she said. “All of us at Animal Control are certainly willing to have more enforceable laws.”

While no laws have been changed, the public outcry may have been enough, as Rantz confirmed that Lambright, who owned several dogs, recently removed the animals from her property.

“Our office has followed up on the incident, and she [Lambright] no longer owns any dogs,” Chief Rantz said.

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