Thursday, May 27, 2010

West Vincent man kills neighbor's pit bull, won't be charged

WEST VINCENT — Police filed charges against a 37-year-old Chester Springs woman after her three pit bulls reportedly charged at her neighbors.

The pit bulls' charging incident caused the neighbor to shoot and kill one of the dogs; however, he does not face charges under a provision in the Pennsylvania Dog Law, according to police.

The incident occurred about 8:16 p.m. May 21 when township police officer Matthew Fredericks was dispatched to the 2200 block of Miller Road for a disturbance that involved the shooting of a dog. Upon arrival, police met resident Fred Zeitter, 46, who stated he and his wife had been in their yard planting a tree when three pit bulls, belonging to their neighbor, came running toward them.

Zeitter's wife screamed and grabbed their own dogs — two Chihuahuas and a golden retriever — and ran into her home. Zeitter proceeded to throw a rake at the neighbor's pit pulls to scare them away, according to police.

The pit bulls reportedly continued to charge at Zeitter as he ran into his home. Zeitter then grabbed his .40-caliber handgun from his deck, turned around, and as all three pit bulls were charging at him, he fired his handgun at one of the dogs, striking the dog in the head and killing it instantly, according to police. The other two pit bulls then ran away from Zeitter's home.

Through Fredericks' investigation, with the assistance of West Vincent Township Animal Control Officer Glenn Deery, it was determined that the pit bulls belonged to Zeitter's neighbor, Carey Bailey. According to a person at Bailey's residence, all three pit bulls reportedly jumped a 6-foot fence earlier that day and ran away, police said.

According to Bailey, the dogs are rescues; however, "no documentation could be produced to support that," police said.

Police filed charges under the Pennsylvania Dog Law against Bailey including three counts of harboring a dangerous dog, three counts of dogs running at large, three counts of dogs required to be licensed and three counts of vaccination required.

Prior to this incident, on May 4, Bailey was cited by Deery for alleged failure to license the same three pit bulls after the police department reportedly received numerous calls of her dogs running at large. Bailey was again cited on May 17 for dogs running at large and failure to license dogs, police said.

Zeitter was cleared of any criminal charges by the Chester County District Attorney's Office. West Vincent Police Chief Michael Swininger said that Zeitter was cleared of charges under a section of the Pennsylvania Dog Law.

"Any person may kill any dog which he sees in the act of pursuing or wounding or killing any domestic animal; wounding or killing other dogs, cats or household pets; or pursuing, wounding or attacking human beings, whether or not such dog bears the license tag required by the provisions of this act," states the law. "There shall be no liability on such persons in damages or otherwise for such killing."

Zeitter said he and his wife moved into their home about three weeks ago.

"This is our dream house; this is where we want to live when we retire," he said. "We fell in love with the home when there was about two feet of snow on the ground, so we weren't fully aware of what we were getting into."

Zeitter said he is in the process of putting a fence up around his entire property. Since the property is not completely enclosed now, he said Bailey's pit bulls were able to run around it.

Zeitter recalled the evening of the charging incident. He said was in the back yard doing some work.

"I heard barking and my wife screaming," he said.

Luckily, Zeitter said, his dogs were inside a small, gated area when the pit bulls entered his yard. Zeitter said his wife quickly grabbed their dogs and ran inside while the pit bulls continued to charge at him.

Zeitter said he does not have any young children, but he does fear for the safety of his friends and their young children who come to visit his new home.

"The pit bulls' barking sounds like werewolves," he said. "They are constantly barking."

The Mercury

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