No verdict in case involving dog attack

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 24, 2011

By Shavonne Potts
A woman whose pit bull attacked her neighborís horses will have to wait three weeks for a decision in her case.
Animal Control said Cortenea Winchester violated the countyís ordinance in allowing her dog, a pit bull named, Lucy, to run loose. In late January her dog bit a horse housed in a pasture on Sells Road. The same horse, Honey, was attacked in November.
Winchester and her neighbors, including the horseís owner, Tammy Fisher, were in District Court Wednesday. Winchester waived her right to attorney and represented herself.
Following an hourlong hearing, Judge Marshall Bickett told Winchester this was a difficult decision.
ěI need a little bit of help,î he said.
Bickett referred the matter to the April 7 District Court date so a probation officer can provide appropriate sentencing recommendations in whatís called a pre-sentencing report.
Fisher testified she spent a total of $937 on veterinarian bills to treat her horseís injuries. The horse had teeth marks and tear marks to its legs.
Fisher did not witness the attacks, but said another neighbor videotaped the attack and she produced pictures of Honeyís injuries.
Winchester told a Post reporter in January the dog was not hers. She admitted in court Wednesday the dog belonged to her and that the dog did get loose.
Winchester said the dog did not get loose as frequently as her neighbors said.
She told the judge that Lucy was accidentally let out by her daughter once and then most recently by her boyfriend who walked the dog. Winchester told the court the dog slipped out of its collar and did not respond when her boyfriend called for her.
The dog also did not respond when Winchester called for it.
Winchester told the judge she was one who called Animal Control.
Salisbury Police Animal Control Officer Ann Frye told the court she gave Winchester a leash and a can of cat food in efforts to help her retrieve her dog.
ěShe (Lucy) was obviously enjoying her freedom,î Frye said on the stand.
Frye said the dog approached her as she was setting a dog trap.
She said Lucy was friendly.
Despite the fact that Lucy appeared friendly, the black-and-white pit bull was put down by animal control.
ěWhat else you want me to do?î Winchester asked.
Assistant District Attorney Rosalee Hart-Morrison asked for restitution.
Winchester said she did not have a job and could not pay the $937 in vet bills and $50 fine to Animal Control.
Bickett said it concerned him that the neighbors did not talk to each other about this issue. He said they should have initiated discussions about the dog.
ěYep thatís what grown people do,î Winchester said.
Bickett told Winchester that she came across as a little rough and he could see why her neighbors were hesitant to approach her.
ěMaíam youíve got an attitude,î the judge said.
Bickett did not make a final decision in the case.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.