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Dog mauls woman at Waverly farmers' market

U.S. SenateJones Falls ExpresswayMary Pat ClarkeAmerican Kennel ClubUnion Memorial Hospital

Baltimore City police released the incident report Monday morning about the woman who was attacked by a Rottweiler outside the farmers' market in Waverly Saturday. The attack took place when the dog broke the leash with which it had been tied to a parking meter, witnesses said Sunday.

The attack took place about 10:15 a.m. in the 3200 block of Barclay Street, which runs beside the popular 32nd Street Farmers Market, one of the city's largest.

According to witnesses, a man tied his Rottweiler to a parking meter behind one of the vendor's trucks and entered the market, where dogs are not permitted. At some point, the dog got loose and attacked the woman, who was not identified. Witnesses described her as a slight woman with blonde hair in her early 20s.

Dana Moore, a Charles Village resident who witnessed the attack, said she saw the woman running from the dog before it pounced and dragged her down. Her identity had still not been released Monday morning.

"He was all over her," Moore said. "My impression was that this lady was going to be hurt real bad."

Sgt. Anthony Smith, a spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department, said he understood that such an attack had occurred but could not confirm it officially. He said he would not have access to the police report — which would list the names of the victim and the dog owner — until Monday.

Amy Shamman, a health department spokeswoman, said the department could not comment on the incident because there is an ongoing investigation into what occurred.

However, Baltimore Officer Wayne Early, who has a side job providing security at the market, said he came upon the scene after bystanders intervened and removed the dog from the woman. Early said the victim was taken to Union Memorial Hospital with bites to her left arm and leg and a scrape on her face.

The officer said the dog owner, who returned to the scene after the attack, was given citations by both the police and animal control workers. The dog's owner was identified in police documents as Omar McBee, 40, of the 600 block of McKewin Avenue in Baltimore.

Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, who represents the area, said the dog was originally put under quarantine at the owner's home. But Clarke said that after she called animal control officials, the Rottweiler was picked up and taken to a shelter pending a hearing.

Early estimated the dog was about 120 pounds, while other witnesses said it might be even larger. The Baltimore City police department report said the dog is two years old and weighs 125 pounds.

Early said there was no evidence that the woman had provoked the animal.

"I guess he went after the first person he could find," Early said. While the officer referred to the dog as a he, neither Early nor other witnesses knew the animal's gender.

According to a study by the group dogsbite.com, 14 percent of the 88 fatal dog-bite attacks in the United States from 2006 to 2008 involved Rottweilers — with the breed second only to pit bulls in the frequency of attacks on people.

Marc Rey, board president of the farmers' market, did not witness the Waverly attack but saw its aftermath. He said he believed it took four or five people to drag the dog off the screaming woman. Rey said a young woman who works at the market, whose name he did not know, had experience working with dangerous dogs and managed to get the Rottweiler to let go of the woman.

Rey said the incident and the police response created a commotion at the market, which he said draws about 4,000 to 5,000 shoppers on a Saturday in August.

"It certainly upset things for a good 45 minutes to an hour," he said.

Early said police routinely tell people they can't bring their dogs to the Waverly market or to the downtown Sunday market under the Jones Falls Expressway.

"There's no place for a dog at any farmers' market," he said.

Rey said the Waverly market has been fighting a running battle for five or six years to keep people from bringing their dogs — putting up signs and handing out leaflets to let owners know their animals are not welcome.

Del. Mary Washington, a Baltimore Democrat who represents the Waverly area, said she arrived at the scene a few minutes after the attack. Washington, whose district office is across the street from the market, said she saw about six police officers as well as animal control workers responding.

By then, she said, the dog's owner was present and the Rottweiler was calmly sitting on the grass, wearing a chain collar.

Washington said she was especially concerned about what happened because the question of how the law should deal with dogs that bite was recently an issue before the General Assembly.

In a special session this month that primarily dealt with casino gambling, both the Senate and House passed bills that would have overruled a court opinion issued in April that determined pit bulls are inherently dangerous and their owners could be held to a stricter liability standard than owners of other dog breeds.

In its decision, the Court of Appeals did not deal with Rottweilers — a muscular breed described by the American Kennel Club as "protective of their territory" and not welcoming of strangers "until properly introduced."

The court decision created an exception to a common law rule that exempts owners from strict liability if their dog had not previously showed signs of being dangerous.

The Senate bill would have applied a strict liability standard to all dogs regardless of breed, ending the so-called "one free bite" rule. The House would have applied that standard only to dogs running loose. The two houses could not agree, so the legislation died. The court last week modified its ruling so that it does not apply to cross-bred pit bulls.

Washington said the legislature needed to return to the issue during its regular session, which begins in January.

"We have to figure out a way the rules make sure that owners are taking care of their dogs," she said. "The last thing we want to do is blame the dog for being what it was trained to be."

michael.dresser@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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U.S. SenateJones Falls ExpresswayMary Pat ClarkeAmerican Kennel ClubUnion Memorial Hospital
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