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Plum pit bull owner faces charges after attack

| Friday, Jan. 29, 2010

Joe Martinez got a grisly greeting when he recently returned to his Shearer Road home in Plum.

Martinez, 70, said a pit bull came after him and growled as he started up the steps to his home at about 12:30 p.m. Jan. 13.

And the situation got worse.

Martinez said he retrieved a 20-gauge shotgun from his truck and fired at the pit bull as it came after him a second time. He missed the dog, and it ran off.

The next image Martinez saw will stay with him forever, he said.

Martinez said he saw another pit bull standing over Rocky, his 13-year-old German shepherd/husky mix who was chained in the yard.

When the second pit bull ran off, Martinez realized that Rocky had been killed.

"There was a big chunk of meat out (of Rocky) and puncture marks on him," Martinez said.

Horrified, Martinez ran off after the dogs but couldn't catch them.

Martinez then called his daughter-in-law, who summoned Plum police.

The officers, with Martinez and the borough's animal control officer, Gary Hoffman, searched for the dogs.

Before the dogs were located, Martinez said a man later identified in a police report as Richard Borowski, 27, of Hemphill Hollow Road, about 1 1/2 miles from the Martinez home, drove up to them on Webster Road and asked the searchers if they had seen his dogs. They told Borowski what occurred.

Contacted for this story, Borowski had no comment. Borowski had reported the dogs missing to Plum police on Jan. 12, according to a police report.

Borowski's lawyer, Paul Zavarella, could not be reached for comment.

Several hours later, the dogs were found on a porch on Rosewood Drive near Plum High School, according to the police report.

Hoffman said he took the pit bulls to the kennel, and Martinez identified them as the dogs that attacked Rocky.

Allegheny County dog warden Steven Stoehr said the police were prohibited from shooting the dogs because, according to state law, dogs cannot be put down unless they are in pursuit of another domesticated animal or a person.

"We don't want to put a dog down," Stoehr said. "We want the owner to be responsible."

The pit bulls were returned to Borowski who is required to keep them under control and muzzled if they leave his home, Stoehr said.

Charges are pending against Borowski for the Jan. 13 incident, Hoffman and Stoehr said.

The latest incident is not Borowski's first contact with authorities over his pit bulls.

Borowski was cited in 2003 for confinement of dogs (running at large). Plum District Judge Linda Zucco found him guilty, according to records in her office. Borowski paid a $53 fine.

Last year, Borowski was cited for failure to confine the dogs within his premises, have the dogs vaccinated for rabies, and have the dogs licensed. Borowski plead guilty and paid a $74 fine.

Hoffman filed both sets of charges.

"It shows an ongoing problem," Hoffman said.

Stoehr said if dogs are declared "dangerous" and the owner wants to keep them, according to state law, the owner is required to keep them in the home. If the dogs stay outside, the owner must build an enclosure that is fenced in and has a roof. The area also would have to be posted that a dangerous dog lives on the premises, Stoehr said.

Also, the owner is required to register the dogs through the state and buy a permit for $500 per dog per year. The owner also must obtain a $50,000 bond from an insurance company.

Martinez said he doesn't want to see the dogs put down.

He does want $300 in compensation for his dog and $100 for burial expenses.

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