Girl, 6, victim of dog, wants it put to sleep


Like most kindergartners, 6-year-old Tiffany Kunnecke likes to draw pictures for her mommy, zip up and down the street on her scooter and play dress-up.

She likes dogs, too, but not Benzo, the unneutered male pit bull that severely injured an Anne Arundel County toddler Wednesday.

The same dog bit Tiffany twice last summer after she hugged him. One bite punctured the tear duct in her left eye; the other tore a 3-inch wound on her cheek that required 25 stitches to close.

Bright and beaming yesterday, the tiny Brooklyn girl turned serious when asked about Benzo: "I hope they kill him."

Tahira S. Thomas, Anne Arundel County animal control administrator, said her agency wants to euthanize the dog, which is being held at the animal control facility in Millersville. But the agency cannot destroy the dog without the consent of owner Ronald O. Powell Jr.

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 upgraded from fair to good condition yesterday at Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore.

Neither The Sun nor animal control officials have been successful in reaching Powell since the attack.

"It's very unusual for an owner to go this long and not make contact with us and avoid us the way he's doing," Thomas said.

"I'm afraid of Benzo," Tiffany said yesterday, a scar on her right cheek a reminder of the Aug. 9 attack.

That day, the Farring Elementary School pupil and her 7-year-old sister went with their mother to Powell's previous home, in the 4100 block of Audrey Ave., where their mother was to baby-sit Jasmine.

The sister let Benzo out of his cage in the living room to play with him. Soon after, Tiffany said, the dog bit her when she hugged him. Benzo bit her shirt first, she said, before biting her left eye and her cheek. Doctors at Johns Hopkins Children's Center will determine next month if she needs plastic surgery.

"I hope they put [Benzo] to sleep, because if not, he's going to go after another kid," June Kunnecke, Tiffany's mother, said yesterday. She said she spoke Thursday night with the 2-year- old's mother, who told her that Powell, 27, intended to have the dog put to sleep.

Two days after the Baltimore attack, Powell apparently moved about a mile south - across the city-Anne Arundel County line.

Kunnecke said Powell returned to Brooklyn several times to visit and asked about Tiffany's condition. She said until Benzo attacked Powell's daughter, she believed that the dog had been destroyed.

She said she doesn't support Baltimore's proposed ban on pit bulls.

"It's not really the dog, it's how they're raised. My girlfriend has a pit bull named Loco and it's the nicest dog," she said. "It loves kids."

Powell expressed regret about the attack, she said, and offered to help pay Tiffany's $3,500 medical bill, but he has yet to do so.

Wanda Wood, Tiffany's grandmother, said she will never forget seeing her granddaughter being rushed out of Powell's house with a blood-soaked towel wrapped around her head.

"There are dogs all up and down this neighborhood," said Wood, who has lived in Brooklyn for 46 years. Along Audrey Avenue yesterday, several Rottweilers and pit bulls roamed freely. Others were chained to worn poles that once held up fences. "This neighborhood has gone down," she said. "But Tiffany's been a real trouper through this."

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