Pit bull owner upset with Carmel official

Posted Sept. 23, 2008, at 9:23 p.m.

CARMEL, Maine — Shannon Lee, the owner of two pit bulls who were put to sleep on Monday after escaping her home and attacking a neighbor’s dog over the weekend, says she is upset about how the town’s animal control officer handled the situation.

“I was told I had no choice,” she said.

Lee’s two pit bulls, Madison and Money, were put down at Penobscot Veterinary Hospital on the Davis Road in Bangor.

Kathie Ricker, the town’s animal control officer, said seizing pets is always a touchy issue, but because Lee agreed to allow the dogs to be put down, she gave up her rights. Ricker said the town paid for euthanizing the dogs, which by law is the responsibility of the owner, because Lee didn’t have any money.

Animal welfare laws, under the Maine Department of Agriculture, have rules for when a dangerous dog can and cannot be killed. The law states a dog could legally be euthanized “if it has killed, maimed or inflicted serious bodily injury upon a person [or domestic animal] or has a history of a prior assault.”

Lee, who is a 20-year-old single mother, said she recently was given the dogs and took them because she wanted to give them a good home and because Madison was pregnant and she wanted to make money selling the puppies. She added she attempted to get the rabies vaccination records, but the family that gave her the dogs had moved to Florida.

After her dogs attacked a neighbor’s German shepherd on Saturday night, Lee was issued six tickets, two for dogs at large, two for dangerous dogs, and two for unregistered pit bulls.

The typical fines for dogs at large and unregistered dogs is around $50, but range between $250 and $1,000 for dangerous dogs, Ricker said.

Lee said paying the fines will be difficult and added that she feels like a villain when all she was trying to do was save the dogs and help support her family.

Lee has four puppies remaining out of Madison’s litter of seven that she plans to sell once they are old enough to make money to pay the fines and her neighbor’s vet bill, she said. Three of the puppies already have been placed with friends.

“Had we been able to quarantine them, they still would have had to be euthanized” because they were dangerous, Ricker said. “It’s a shame what happened, but it would have been worse” if someone had been hurt.

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