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Chapel Hill Pit Bull Owner Pays Fine, Gets Dogs Back

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — A Chapel Hill man came to court Thursday, paid a fine and was given back his two pit bulls who were being held at the Orange County Animal Shelter.

Ralph Logner faced two counts of harboring a vicious animal; one of the charges was dropped. He was fined $50 and ordered to provide secure housing for the dogs, who have been the center of a biting controversy for months.

The pit bulls, named Roscoe and Cisco, were involved in two attacks and have been quarantined three times.

In March the pit bulls slipped out of their pen, mauled a small pug and scratched his owner.

The dogs were returned to Logner, who agreed to secure the fencing at his Chapel Hill home.

Three weeks later, police found Roscoe and Cisco in a local parking lot; one of the pit bills had attacked another dog.

The dogs were quarantined at the shelter. Then, the shelter said someone broke into the place and stole the dogs. A few days later, Roscoe and Cisco's owner also disappeared and later failed to show up for a court appearance.

Two weeks ago, an Orange County sheriff's deputy found the dogs during a routine traffic stop. They were in the back of Logner's car. Officials said a friend of Logner was behind the wheel.

The animal shelter took additional security measures to ensure the dogs would not be stolen again.

Shelter Director Laura Walters said at $16 a day, the dogs' stay was adding up.

"We can't adopt them out. The shame is we have to euthanize other animals who could use that space," she said.

The female dog was spayed at the shelter. Walters said doing so is expected to make the dog calmer and less aggressive.

Logner's case will not be finalized until he appears before Judge Alonza Coleman on June 27 to confirm the fine was paid and he has established secure housing for the dogs.

Meanwhile, some people are concerned the dogs could strike again.

"It's a definite concern. It's a concern that, you know, it will happen again," Walters said.

The incidents involving Rosco and Cisco are part of the reason Orange County may tighten its vicious animal ordinance.

"I'll be much harsher, strictrer," said John Sauls, Orange County animal control director.

Changes could include higher fines for dog owners and tighter restrictions for dogs -- even after just one attack.

"It's the pairs that really scare us. Pairs of large dogs that are perfectly capable of killing people," Sauls said.

The rewritten ordinance will have to go through several panels before it gets to the Orange County commissioners.