Dogs that killed dozens of cats had already injured two women
One look inside Catherine Stephens' home leaves no doubt she loves cats. Her pets are well cared for, even pampered. Many days she places them in a stroller and takes walks.
Stephens said her feline passion is why she protected a neighbor's cat when a dog tried to attack it on April 16.
The dog bit Stephens hand, causing injuries that required medical treatment.
She blames her neighbor Kenneth Hamilton, who has three pit bulls that he has struggled to keep in his yard. He blames a faulty electric fence.
“These dogs have terrorized this neighborhood for months,” Stephens said.
Another woman, Sheila Andreasen, claims one of Hamilton's dogs also bit her and killed two of her cats.
The incidents involving the dogs would have likely gone unnoticed had it not been for what happened last week.
That is when Hamilton's dogs escaped again, and as in at least one previous occasion, were taken to the Dothan Animal Shelter.
Before he could reclaim the pit bulls, they escaped their pen at the shelter, then used their teeth as wire cutters. They forced their way through a chain link fence, and once inside, killed 29 cats.
Stephens believes this attack could have been avoided had the dogs been euthanized after biting her.
However, laws usually require confiscated pets to be returned to their owner if the animals have current vaccinations, Shelter Director Bill Banks said.
After the death of those shelter cats things changed, and the city is now moving forward with plans to euthanize the dogs.
Hamilton believes he has become a scapegoat for a city embarrassed by what happened.
“I think it is spiraling out of control with all the media coverage. (It has been) in the news for over a week,” he said.
On Tuesday, police arrested Hamilton on four charges of allowing his dogs to roam at large, often referred to as leash law violations.
He believes the warrants are retaliation for his refusal to surrender his dogs to the city.
However, while two of those arrest warrants were issued this week, the other two were issued in June, weeks before the shelter incident.
Hamilton also wonders why he was arrested since, in most cases, the city issues summons in these type cases. “They made me come down (to the jail) and took my mug shot,” he told WTVY.
While he accepts responsibility for what happened, Hamilton also believes the city shares in the blame.
He is among those who believe that if Dothan had a modern shelter, his dogs would have never been able to get to those cats.
While there are plans to eventually construct a new shelter, there is no timetable and not nearly enough money.
Hamilton still has a one pit bull at his home.
Down the street, Catherine Stephens still strolls her cats.
She now carries a baseball bat---and a pistol.