By Darrell Todd Maurina
Buddy is still alive and he’s going to trial.
The mixed-breed pit bull’s owner, Greg Hromas, faces up to $1,500 in fines for allegedly allowing his dog to run at large and chase police. Conviction can be even more serious for Buddy, who faces death.
Curry County Magistrate Judge Doug Miller heard Hromas’ case on Tuesday and the court may eventually give approval for the dog’s destruction, as recommended by Curry County Sheriff’s officers. Instead, Miller agreed to appoint the Curry County Public Defender’s Office to represent Hromas. District attorney Brett Carter will prosecute the case.
Carter said this will be his first loose-dog trial.
“Usually when an officer writes a citation, the officers prosecute it themselves,” Carter said. “We have prosecuted cases of two individuals fighting their pit bulls, which is a felony, but I don’t think we’ve ever had to prosecute one of these.”
But this case is unusual.
Buddy is accused of attacking the car of a Curry County sheriff’s deputy when the deputy went to Hromas’ home to investigate a report of loose dogs.
In another incident, officers said they had to use pepper spray to avoid being attacked by Buddy, who is now being held at Clovis Animal Shelter.
Carter said he knew of only one other case in which a dog was accused of attacking police officers, and that case led to the death of the dog, though not through judicial processes.
“A citizen called in a complaint of a pit bull running up and down the street chasing kids,” Carter said. “The officer showed up, the dog attached itself to her pant leg, and she had to shoot the dog.”
Miller did not set a court date Tuesday, but said the case will be heard by a jury.
Miller also warned Hromas that if the complaints have a factual basis, he needs to take steps to solve the problem with any animals he might own.
“I am not accusing you, but if there is a vicious animal on your property, you need to make sure you keep it contained,” Miller said.