Sunday, August 9, 2009

New pit bull rescue irking neighbors

By Andrew Knittle

SHAWNEE, Okla -- An employee of a local organization that helps homeless families get back on their feet is concerned that a fledgling pit bull rescue operation around the corner from the day center where she works could present a potentially deadly problem for the children who use the facility on a daily basis.

Patti Marshall, a case/office manager at Family Promise of Shawnee, said she’s afraid that one of the 15 pit bulls being housed at 1064 Leo Road and some surrounding property could get loose and attack one the six children who are currently using the day center. She said two of the pit bulls recently escaped from the property on Leo Avenue and were picked up by Animal Control at the gas station that sits right across the street from Family Promise — maybe 20 to 30 yards away.

“The kids play in the enclosed backyard but they also play out front and ride their bikes around the front,” Marshall said.

Family Promise is a re-purposed residence with a large front yard that runs clear up to Leo Avenue. There is no fence and the property with the pit bulls is less than a half mile to the east.

“Basically, I’m concerned about the children — and the dogs,” Marshall said. “That’s the whole reason I started working on this. Because I noticed the dogs didn’t have any water and the temperature was warming up and it just concerned me.”

Marshall said the dogs just “showed up” one day in early spring on the property she thought was vacant.

“There was nobody living there, I’m almost sure of that,” she said.

Longtime Shawnee resident Dana Dethrow, the owner of the 15 pit bulls and founder of the new rescue operation, told the News-Star on Thursday there’s nothing to be concerned about.

“Those dogs have been abandoned by people who couldn’t handle them or didn’t want them anymore,” Dethrow said. “And not one of those dogs has ever bitten anybody.”

Dethrow, who also owns a house in the 200 block of E. 10th Street, said she’s in the process of building kennels to house the dogs and that she’ll soon live on the 25-acre property to watch over the dogs around the clock.

“I’m going to be moved in there within two weeks or so and right now I go by twice a day to change their water and feed them,” she said. “It’s an expensive process and we’re just trying to get everything lined up right now.”

One of Dethrow’s pit bulls, Hope, was recently cited for biting a 9-year-old boy near her downtown residence, but she said the dog wasn’t euthanized because the bite was minor and that Hope had never bitten before. She said Hope lives at home with her and that the dog isn’t on the Leo Avenue property at this point.

Dethrow said she only plans on rescuing pit bulls and that she won’t start breeding them. She also said she’s working on getting the dogs either spayed or neutered, and that so far two of the males have been fixed because the procedure heals faster than spaying.

“That’s expensive, too,” she said. “I’m doing the best I can, but it’s a process.”
Dethrow said she has nothing to hide and that she hopes her neighbors will contact her if they have any questions.

“Please do,” she said. “I’m just trying to help these dogs.”..."