Pit bull accused of attacking Sheriff’s deputies’ vehicles. File photo.
By Darrell Todd Maurina
“Buddy,” the pit bull who didn’t like sheriff’s deputies, lost his case and faces death by either carbon monoxide or lethal injection.
“Sheriff (Roger) Hatcher won; they are going to destroy Buddy and I have to pay $351 in fines,” said Clovis resident Greg Hromas, who agreed to those terms in a plea bargain proposed Tuesday by Curry County District Attorney Brett Carter.
The case had previously been postponed numerous times and in the meantime the sheriff’s office accumulated a $1,600 dog kennel bill.
Hromas said he loves the dog given to him as a 4-week-old puppy in 2000, and had been fighting since May to keep the Curry County Sheriff’s Office from euthanizing his pet after an incident in which Buddy attacked a deputy’s car.
That wasn’t the only incident. Deputies earlier confiscated Buddy’s mate and a yardful of pit bull puppies after what police say was aggressive behavior by dogs running loose. The female dog was euthanized, the puppies were adopted out, and until Tuesday Hromas had been fighting to keep his last remaining dog.
According to Hromas, while he was working as a maintenance man at a Clovis trailer park and Buddy was still a young puppy, Buddy got caught up in a drug sting at a different trailer and was pepper-sprayed by the police. Since then, Buddy reacted violently whenever he saw police uniforms, though Hromas said Buddy was a very gentle dog to anyone not wearing a police uniform.
“I tried to save him, I could have taken it on to a jury trial but I decided to get over it. Let Buddy be at peace,” Hromas said. “I know my animal was right, Buddy never bit anybody, he was just protecting his family when those officers were coming up and he would bark.”
Dr. Glenn Keim, owner of Curry County Animal Hospital where Buddy has been staying for the past four months, said Buddy caused him no problems.
“He’s been good, everybody likes him and he likes us, once he figured out we weren’t going to hurt him or do anything weird,” Kein said.
That wasn’t Buddy’s experience at the Clovis Animal Shelter.
“We spent over $1,600 housing Buddy because the animal shelter would not let us house him over there. He would tear his cages apart every time someone would come in there in uniform,” Hatcher said. “This has been extremely expensive for the sheriff’s office.”
Hatcher said he felt sorry for Buddy but his department had no choice other than to push for Buddy’s death.
“This is unfortunate for Buddy; he is as much a victim in this as anybody. If there were another option available, I would entertain that option,” Hatcher said. “It doesn’t matter where you go or how you treat him, he’s going to be aggressive toward people in uniform. Even if we take him outside of Curry County, we can’t run the risk of him chewing up somebody because they are wearing a uniform.”
Hatcher said the case had attracted an unusual level of public interest.
“Our county attorney said he had received three phone calls requesting a stay of execution for Buddy the dog,” Hatcher said. “What do we do? Do we give the dog back to Mr. Hromas so we can have this happen again? No, that is not an option. Do we give it to someone else? No, we will have the same problem.
“This is not just any animal, this is a pit bull, and we have sufficient public sentiment about this from people who know this is a detriment to the safety of the public,” Hatcher said.
District Attorney Brett Carter said his office proposed the plea bargain as the best end to a difficult situation.
“Unless that dog can read a badge, I just can’t see how that dog can distinguish between a deputy and someone else wearing a uniform,” Carter said. “It is my understanding that anyone wearing a uniform was a target, and I’m not sure the dog can distinguish between a police officer, a UPS driver, or anyone else wearing a uniform.”
Hromas said he spent much of Tuesday crying after signing the plea agreement.
“I just couldn’t go back to work this afternoon, and looked at pictures we used to have playing ball. I looked at the piece of rope we used to play with, and then I put them in the fire to get rid of the memories,” Hromas said. “I just let him go, and maybe someday I’ll see him in heaven.”