A 37-year-old animal control officer was shot and wounded Tuesday night shortly after he investigated a report that dogs were being kept illegally in a South Baltimore house and had seized a dog from another residence in a separate call, according to city officials.
Jermaine Barnes, who has been on the job for four years, was treated at Maryland Shock Trauma Center for a gunshot wound to his hand and released. Mayor Sheila Dixon visited him while he was at the hospital.
Police have not made any arrests, but the city's chief police spokesman, Anthony Guglielmi, said detectives "are trying to figure out if it was related to the course of his duty or if it was random gunfire."
Interim Health Commissioner Olivia D. Farrow issued a statement saying that Barnes had seized an animal from a house and then, about 7 p.m., had responded to an anonymous call that someone was keeping five dogs in a house in the 700 block of Pontiac Ave. in Brooklyn. City code requires anyone having two or more dogs to have a kennel license.
But Barnes found no dogs at the address, drove to the 800 block of E. Patapsco Ave. "and was filling out paperwork when he was shot."
Police said the driver's side window was shattered and that Barnes was hit in the hand.
Authorities did not divulge other details about the call on Pontiac Avenue or say whether anyone was home or whether Barnes had spoken to anyone. But Farrow's statement said "officers undergo customer service training on how to mediate disputes and avoid physical confrontations."
The statement added: "It is a dangerous job, but a necessary one in order to protect public welfare" by ensuring that pets are properly vaccinated, dangerous animals are caught and hurt or endangered animals are rescued."
Bob Anderson, director of the city's Bureau of Animal Control, refused to comment.