For Officer James Rood, the call Saturday afternoon was serious yet familiar: a woman shot in the 1900 block of Edmondson Avenue.
But when Officer Rood, who was just beginning his shift, arrived at the scene, he found himself in the midst of events that were anything but usual.
The woman, 39-year-old Sharon Barnett, who was walking to a neighborhood hardware store with two young daughters, had been shot in the groin while watching a pair of pit bulls attack a mutt in an alley off Edmondson Avenue.
Police don't know who shot Ms. Barnett, of the 500 block of N. Payson St., who was released yesterday after treatment at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center. But investigators thought she may have been in the path of a bullet meant for the pit bulls.
"I was looking at how that pit bull was tearing that dog apart -- it was terrible," Ms. Barnett said. The next thing she knew, she had been shot.
The pit bulls are dead. Officer Rood shot them while they were attacking the "Benji-type" mutt that was staunchly protecting its masters -- a 5-year-old boy and a boy 12 or 13.
"That dog had all the heart in the world -- it was going to save its owner," Officer Rood said. "It's like something you would see in a movie. It was a brave little dog."
The 5-year-old boy was bitten on the thigh and treated at the University of Maryland Hospital Center and released. The elder boy, though shaken, was not injured, Officer Rood said. He declined to divulge the boys' names because they are juveniles.
"The boy's clothes were ripped. They were just hanging on him," Officer Rood said of the elder boy.
The boys' dog survived. Officer Rood said he gave the boys some money to buy peroxide to clean up the animal's wounds.
Officer Rood said the incident began about 4 p.m when a pit bull escaped from a garage and attacked the 5-year-old while he was playing in an alley behind Edmondson Avenue.
When the boy's dog came to his rescue, the other pit bull jumped three fences to join the fracas. The elder boy attempted to shoot the pit bulls with a pellet gun, but the dogs tore the weapon away from him, Officer Rood said.
"The boys were petrified," he said. "I think everybody in the neighborhood was."
The dead dogs were removed by the city. Their owner, Vernon Richards, of the 1900 block of Edmondson Avenue, was issued a summons, Officer Rood said.
Mr. Richards said yesterday that he didn't blame the officer for killing the dogs.
"It's something that had to be done," he said, adding that he never had had any problems before.