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Dog's attack on child was not its first


The pit bull dog that inflicted life-threatening neck injuries to an Anne Arundel County toddler Wednesday had previously bitten a 5-year-old Brooklyn girl on the face, Baltimore animal control officials said yesterday.

According to records, Benzo, a 1 1/2 -year-old male pit bull, inflicted two bites last summer on the face of the girl after she hugged him - one of them requiring 25 stitches to close.

The girl, whose name was not divulged, was taken to Johns Hopkins Children's Center and treated for a bite under her left eye and the larger, 3-inch wound to her right cheek. She was also treated for rabies and received a tetanus shot, officials said.

Tahira S. Thomas, Anne Arundel County Animal Control administrator, said the agency intends to euthanize the dog, which has been confined at the Animal Control facility in Millersville. However, she said, Animal Control needs the consent of owner Ronald O. Powell Jr. before taking such action.

Powell's 2-year-old daughter, Jasmine Nikole Powell, was bitten on the throat early Wednesday at their home in the 5200 block of Kramme Ave. in Brooklyn Heights. The toddler was listed in fair condition at the pediatric trauma unit of the Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore.

Neither The Sun nor Animal Control officials have been successful in reaching Powell, 27, since the attack.

Thomas said her agency fined Powell $80 on April 30 for failing to license and provide proof of rabies vaccination for Benzo and a second pit bull he was believed to own.

She said that neighbors told Animal Control officers that the second dog is female and pregnant.

Jasmine was mauled when Benzo leaped a 3-foot gate in the kitchen, ran into her bedroom and grabbed her by the throat, the father told police.

The earlier attack occurred Aug. 9 at a house in the 4100 block of Audrey Ave., where the girl and her 7-year-old sister had accompanied their mother, who was babysitting for a neighbor.

The sister let Benzo, then a year old and weighing 50 pounds, out of his cage to play with him. When the 5-year-old hugged the dog, it turned and bit her. The dog was placed back in its cage shortly after the attack, according to city records recounted by Robert Anderson, director of the city's Bureau of Animal Control.

Two days after the attack, city Animal Control officials said they tried to determine whether the dog was registered and had been vaccinated against rabies, but Powell had moved about a mile south - across the city-Anne Arundel County border from Brooklyn to the Kramme Avenue address in Brooklyn Heights.

According to the records read to The Sun by Anderson, the mother of the 5-year-old victim said she did not know the whereabouts of the dog or its owner after he moved.

"Most of the time," Anderson said, "we can find the owner or the dog, but in this one, the guy boogied quick."

The investigation was closed two weeks after the attack. "There was nothing we could do," Anderson said. "We have 15 animal enforcement officers to cover the entire city; I do not have the people to go on a massive manhunt."

Although the Baltimore City Council gave preliminary approval Monday night to a ban on pit bulls, Anderson said that he does not believe such measures will help reduce the more than 1,000 dog bites that occur in the city each year.

In fact, he said, the ban may force pit bull ownership underground, making it more difficult for animal enforcement officers to monitor the animals.

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