Two canines place on ‘death row’ in Maryland immediately after allegedly killing cat

Over the previous calendar year, the canine had been stuck at the Anne Arundel County Animal Care and Regulate facility in Millersville, waiting around, while their proprietors vehemently managed their innocence and fought for their release.

“These canines have been sitting on a doggy death row for a crime they did not do,” mentioned Stephanie A. Kimbrell, 1 of the lawyers representing the dogs’ proprietors.

County officers disagreed, declaring Lucy and Odin are vicious: Less than a county code acknowledged as “Lilo’s Legislation,” any animal considered vicious has to be euthanized. Each 12 months, county animal manage officers reported they have about 2,000 incidents that entail bites, scratches or animal assaults, and of those people, considerably less than 1 % of the animals are discovered to be vicious.

Odin and Lucy’s struggle stands out as an unusually prolonged a person with county officials, say animal advocates in the area.

It pitted neighbor towards neighbor, drew a slew of social media followers including the county executive, alongside with pet fans and animal rescuers, and snagged the consideration of media from New York to Detroit. More than 5,000 folks signed an online petition — hashtag #freeodinandlucy — that was despatched to area council customers.

The dogs’ homeowners mentioned they expended about $25,000 of their possess revenue and donated resources to pay out for two legal professionals and a fence that county officers ordered them to place up as the scenario has wended its way through 50 % a dozen administrative hearings, appeals and just before a circuit court judge.

The scenario, animal advocates say, is an example of what occurs when the electric power and strain of social media incorporate with a multibillion-dollar sector targeted on human like for their pets.

“Most people today never have the time or income or push to go at it this long in battling for their pets,” explained Wendy Cozzone, a longtime animal rescuer who’s also on the board of the Anne Arundel County Animal Welfare Council.

But Nola Lowman, 1 of the dogs’ homeowners, mentioned she was established: “I drove by the pound in all probability 10 occasions a 7 days, and I’d say, ‘Odin and Lucy, I’m likely to get you out of there.’ They’re not just puppies to us, they’re my spouse and children.”

The scenario of Lucy and Odin commenced Jan. 29, 2021.

The pair escaped their ranch-fashion property, nestled off a winding road, immediately after Lowman remaining a doorway open though she was vacuuming her entrance porch. The canines went out of their property, previous the family’s miniature goats, a cow, 50 percent a dozen chickens and a 250-pound Vietnamese potbellied pig named Porkchop, and into their neighbor Daniel Stinchcomb’s lawn — about a few-quarters of a mile absent.

Stinchcomb was functioning in his lose and read pet dogs growling and barking. When he went to check it out, he saw Odin and Lucy with what he at to start with imagined was a raccoon but then understood was Huge Boy, his niece’s cat.

“Odin experienced Huge Boy in his mouth and [was] shaking him back again and forth and Lucy was biting at Major Boy’s head,” Stinchcomb mentioned in a witness statement. An animal management officer inspected the cat’s entire body and observed “several puncture wounds to the cat’s torso and armpit area,” according to court docket filings. The officer wrote, “It appeared … that the cat’s neck was broken.”

Many attempts to attain Stinchcomb were unsuccessful.

Soon immediately after the cat was identified dead, Lowman’s son — William Dillon Jr. — came to the region outdoors the get rid of, and when he was explained to of what occurred, animal handle officials explained in court filings that he was “very sympathetic.” He reported he was seeking for Lucy and Odin simply because they had not “returned house ‘like they usually do.’ ”

An animal command officer instructed Dillon that at the time he discovered them he’d have to have to provide them to the county’s facility. Dillon found the dogs and took them in the following working day. The puppies had no “prior incidents” of biting a human or an animal, in accordance to a report from the animal manage device. About two weeks afterwards, Dillon was served with orders stating his pet dogs had been “vicious” since they had “killed or inflicted significant injury on a human being or domesticated animal” and they’d have to be place down. He could appeal it but in the meantime, Lucy and Odin had to keep impounded.

“It’s like getting rid of your young ones,” stated Dillon, 45, who operates as a development foreman. “I took treatment of them and was normally actively playing with them. Then just one day they’re absent.”

Bent on preserving the dogs’ lives, Lowman and Dillon launched a barrage of appeals to get the “vicious” label dropped. The scenario was lobbed back again and forth in hearings, commissions and courts, but in the end, “vicious” was upheld.

“Odin and Lucy were not provoked. Odin and Lucy ended up not reacting to soreness or personal injury. They had been not preserving or defending a particular person. … They were being not defending on their own, their litter, or an additional animal” the appeals board stated in its July 2021 decision. “We have no self confidence that Odin and Lucy can be safely managed with out threatening other animals and we, therefore, designate Odin and Lucy as vicious. The moment an animal is decided to be ‘vicious’ it need to be destroyed. … It is with deep regret that Odin and Lucy suffer this destiny.”

Odin and Lucy’s situation — and their life — hinged on a 2017 incident and a legislation that was about to face a problem.

Local legislation around euthanizing canines are generally handed soon after regrettable incidents. In Anne Arundel, a dog named Lilo was killed in 2017 by one more doggy that was later on returned to its owner. In response, the county passed “Lilo’s Regulation,” which categorized animals that kill or trigger critical personal injury to a different domesticated animal or human as “vicious” — a label requiring the animal to be euthanized.

On the other hand, Lucy and Odin would not be euthanized until finally their proprietors had fatigued all of their appeals, so they went at it all over again, this time choosing two attorneys — Kimbrell and her boss C. Edward Middlebrooks, who formerly served as a Maryland senator and chair of the county council.

In court docket filings, the attorneys argued that Stinchcomb, the only eyewitness to the incident, had wrongly accused the canine and that there was a deficiency of evidence to establish Lucy and Odin have been the perpetrators. As well as, they said, there had been 4 dead cats located and coyote sightings in the neighborhood since Odin and Lucy ended up put “behind bars.”

“Clearly, there is a cat serial killer in the community, but it is not possible for it to be Odin or Lucy,” they claimed in courtroom filings.

The pet dogs, they argued, did not kill Large Boy but arrived upon the cat right after it was presently dead and commenced enjoying with it as if it were a toy, and that’s what Stinchcomb observed.

The situation dragged on until finally mid-February, when a single of the lawyers received an electronic mail from the county attorney’s place of work about creating a offer.

Anne Arundel County Government Steuart Pittman said he’d heard about the scenario on social media and requested the county attorneys if it could be solved.

“I was shocked these two puppies would be on loss of life row,” Pittman explained. “It should really in no way have gotten that much.”

Pittman stated he options to check with that the county’s procedures on deeming animals vicious be examined to make guaranteed there’s “more place for frequent perception and judgment.”

County attorneys declined to discuss Odin and Lucy’s situation.

On Feb. 18, Odin and Lucy’s lives ended up spared and they were being freed, as Lowman and Dillon picked them up and took them property. Dillon cried when he noticed the puppies.

Even now, the family members had to satisfy some circumstances for their release.

They’d be labeled “dangerous” instead of “vicious” simply because their owners experienced violated the county’s code on animals working at huge. Lowman also experienced to install a six-foot-tall fence with wiring at the bottom and an “anti-climbing topper” to make certain they didn’t dig or climb their way out of their lawn.

On a modern afternoon, Lowman performed with her canines in her fenced-in property and swelled with joy even as she recalled the expensive 12 months-long battle for their return: “It was very well value combating for them. I’d do it again.”