Man says animal control ignored calls about dog hit by car


An irate Crofton man said a dog struck by a car Friday night was left to die in his driveway and then lay there in 102-degree heat Saturday, while county animal control officers ignored his calls.

But a department official said that she doesn't have enough officers to fully staff the weekend shift and that no harm was done as long as the dead dog wasn't blocking traffic.

John Rothamel said yesterday that the county policy is just, plain uncivilized.

"We're left to our own initiative from Friday to Monday as far as animal control is concerned," he said.

Mr. Rothamel, 65, was at his home in the 1700 block of Crofton Parkway about 10 p.m. when a car hit the dog.

The dog was a "very friendly stray," about 30 to 40 pounds, with long black hair, he said. Mr. Rothamel said he moved the suffering animal to his driveway to get it out of traffic. He called animal control and got an answering service, but was assured that someone was on the way. But at 6:30 a.m. Saturday, as he left to go to work, the dog was still in his driveway -- dead.

Mr. Rothamel made a second call to the answering service and was again assured that someone was on the way. When he returned home four hours later, the dog still was there, he said. He made a third call to animal control.

"I told them no one had picked [the dog] up," Mr. Rothamel said. "We're talking 100-degree heat and people and children walking by."

Mr. Rothamel said he expressed his concerns to the people at the answering service, who told him curtly he would have to wait until Monday and hung up.

His plea to the Crofton Police Department on Saturday fell on deaf ears, too, he said.

Just then a neighbor -- an off-duty Prince George's County firefighter -- came by, wrapped the body in a sheet and ended the episode buy removing the dog. But Mr. Rothamel's anger did not subside. Tahira S. Williams, an animal control administrator, defended her staff.

"If the animal is off the road and not impeding traffic, we won't send anyone to pick it up until the next work day -- which would have been Monday . . . ," Ms. Williams said.

Her records show that the answering service received a call at 10:33 p.m. Friday from county police, saying the dog was hit and still alive. At 10:37 p.m., the answering service called an animal control officer, who was dressed and ready to pick up the dog. But when the officer called police at 10:47 p.m. to be sure the dog was still alive and in the same location, the dispatcher told him the dog was dead, she said.

"At that point it was no longer an emergency call," Ms. Williams said.

County police Detective Stephen Atkinson said that computer records confirm a dispatcher told an animal control worker the dog was dead at 10:47.

"But I have no way of knowing if the dog was actually dead," Detective Atkinson said.

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