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Vol. LXV, No. 39
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
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Charges Pending in Dog Incident That Took Place at Riverside School

Anne Levin

Charges are pending in connection with an incident involving a German shepherd dog that attacked a seven-year-old Township girl on the grounds of Riverside School last Sunday, September 25. At least two charges will be filed, said Princeton Township Animal Control Officer Mark Johnson.

“The first would be regarding having a dog on school property, which is not allowed,” Mr. Johnson said. “The second would be owning a dog that had bitten somebody before, which this dog did about a year ago. It was a minor bite. The third would be convening a hearing for owning a potentially dangerous dog.”

The dog is owned by Dorothy Mullen, who is garden artist-in-residence at Riverside School, and Borough Councilman Roger Martindell. The two were working in the school’s garden on Sunday shortly after noon when the girl and her family headed for the playground and approached the area. The dog was tied up to a picnic table.

“Ms. Mullen and Mr. Martindell told the family that the dog was not child-friendly, and asked them to please go around, which they did,” said Mr. Johnson. “But the dog was barking and lunging, over and over. The leash snapped and it got loose. The girl went to turn and run, but of course a dog can outrun a human. The dog attacked her. When Mr. Martindell yelled at it to stop, it did — thank God. Because it could have been a lot worse.

The dog knocked the child down and bit her on the shoulder. “She had about a quarter-sized, half-inch-deep hole in her shoulder blade and a scratch about a foot long,” Mr. Johnson said. “I can’t believe it, but she’s fine. She’s 100 percent a trouper. She was fazed, but considering the severity of the bites, she’s handling it very well. She’s a tough little cookie.”

Mr. Martindell, who had had the four-year-old dog since it was a puppy, had yet to be notified of the charges when contacted Tuesday. “I take full responsibility for bringing the dog to that location,” he said. “I’ve done it for the last four years.” Asked about the dog biting someone in the past, he said “I’m not aware of that.”

The dog is currently quarantined at the owners’ home. Mr. Johnson said the incident was unusual for a German shepherd. “There’s nothing wrong with them. They make great dogs,” he said. “They’ve had this dog since it was a puppy. It’s just that the dog did not like children. What I’m gathering is that if they knew the dog did not like children, they should not have had it where a child would be present.”

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