Judge fines pit bull owner, orders dog euthanized
by Kent Jackson
William Brennan took in a young pit bull terrier that had been abused and tried to compensate for its mistreatment through tender care.
"Obviously, it didn't work," Brennan said after leaving the courtroom of Judge Joseph Zola in Hazleton on Tuesday.
His pit bull, Cocoa, got loose on Jan. 5, hopped a fence into a Hazleton yard, and attacked a Yorkshire terrier that a veterinarian euthanized because of its injuries.
Cocoa is less than a year old and behaves in the house, but has a killer instinct for other animals, Brennan said after pleading guilty to two violations of the state dog law.
Zola ordered Cocoa euthanized and fined Brennan a total of $280.00 including court costs for the state charges: harboring a dangerous dog and failing to license a dog.
The case occurred as Mayor Louis Barletta said dog attacks, especially by pit bulls, are becoming more common in Hazleton and as city council seeks to revise the dog ordinance so it meshes with state law.
Brennan's father John Leshko, who owns the house where Cocoa lives, was fined $50 for letting the dog run loose in violation of a city ordinance. Leshko owns a dog that got loose with Cocoa but he said his dog didn't harm the Yorkshire Terrier. He faces the same state's dog law as his son and awaits a hearing on March 9 at 11a.m.
Zola also ordered Leshko to pay the veterinarian's bill of $165 for treating the Yorkshire terrier, Benji, owned by Terri Lloyed of 450 E. Diamond Ave. Leshko also must reimburse Lloyd $700 for a bichon frise, Missy, that Lloyd bought last week after Benji died.
Leshko said he already paid the veterinarians bill, but Lloyed said the vet's bill is partially paid.
After a veterinarian euthanizes Cocoa, Leshko must submit documentation to the city Health Officer Mark Thompson, Zola said. Leshko plans to have Cocoa put down within 10 days.
Zola also asked Lloyd to bring in the receipt for purchasing Missy.
After the hearing, Brennan said Lloyed bought an expensive dog, and Brennan plans to hire a lawyer for the hearing on March 9.
Lloyd said she received Benji as a gift from her sister and he was 7 when he died. She was somewhat satisfied with the outcome of the case, but worries that Leshko's dog might have become dangerous from its association with Cocoa.
Leshko owns 4-year-old Bailey, a mixed pit bull and Labrador retriever, that also was inside Lloyd's yard during the attack on Benji.
Leshko pleaded innocent to the state dog charges against him and awaits the hearing on March 9 because he said Bailey didn't injure Benji.
Sorry if any typos I was copying it out of my newspaper to type on here.