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Owner fights euthanasia of dogs blamed for cat killing

Posted at 7:48 PM, Jan 31, 2022

ANNAPOLIS, Md (WMAR) — Following the decision from an Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge, two dogs, whose case has gained a large following on social media, will remain in the care of Anne Arundel County Control instead of being euthanized, but the fight is far from over.

“I’m happy but I wish it would have been final,” said Nola Lowman, the dog’s owner.

“I feel like it’s a step forward, closer to getting them home,” said Bill Dillon, the dog’s owner.

Back in January of 2021, the dogs, Lucy, an Akita, and Odin, an American Bully, escaped out their front floor and allegedly attacked and killed a neighbor’s cat.

Anne Arundel County Animal Care and Control seized the dogs and later found them ‘vicious,’ meaning they would be euthanized but numerous appeals have kept them in limbo.

The family said Odin and Lucy are two beloved dogs that have never shown signs of aggression, have been around cats and loose chickens, and have no bite histories. Animal control said they have no prior incidents on record with either dog.

Dillon appealed the orders but the Anne Arundel County Animal Matters Commission sided with animal control. He again appealed to the Anne Arundel County Board of Appeals, who upheld the ‘vicious' order. His last chance to save his dogs was to appeal to the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court and Monday, a judge reversed the decision and sent it back to the Board.

Lowman and Dillon’s defense attorney Ed Middlebrooks argued the evidence is unreliable because it includes two written statements from the one witness, one of which came from a ghost e-mail account that was not tin he complainant’s name, and it was not physically signed.

County attorney Elana Robison said even with minor discrepancies between the complainant’s two statements, what’s clear in both stories is that he did witness the end of the attack.

“A written statement accusing my dogs of doing something and not appearing is wrong. And for them to be confined for all this time for something they didn’t do is wrong,” said Lowman.

The judge said after reviewing everything, she had a problem with the fact that the Board of Appeals did not have any evidence from the county for several mitigating factors used to deem an animal ‘vicious.’

“The big one was whether or not the dogs were provoked or not. There was no testimony on the record whatsoever and we think the testimony was inherently unreliable,” said Middlebrooks.

The case has caught the attention of lots of animal advocates, some whom were in the courtroom to watch the virtual proceedings.

“I have an animal rescue so I love all animals. I didn’t want that cat to die. Nobody wanted that cat to die but I just don’t think Odin and Lucy did it,” said Wendy Cozzone, owner of Cheryl’s Rescue Ranch.

After numerous sightings, neighbors actually think the cat was attacked by a coyote and have found four other dead cats since the dogs were impounded.

“I think it’s a coyote and it’s roaming somewhere,” said Lowman.

Neighbors also told WMAR-2 News that the complainant and his family moved away a few months ago and left their other cats, which the neighbors are now feeding.

Lucy and Odin will continue to be impounded until another Board of Appeals hearing. An anonymous family donated money to construct a fence around Lowman and Dillon’s property so the dogs can’t escape.

A spokesman for Anne Arundel County Police said on average, less than 1 percent of their public safety incidents reported receive a vicious designation; that AACo issues 15 vicious orders each year, despite investigating over 1,500 incidents per year.

“Anne Arundel County has worked hard in recent years to strengthen the laws to hold irresponsible owners accountable because it is recognized that in the wrong hands any animal can create a public safety issue,” said the spokesman in a statement to WMAR-2 News.