Wheeling police arrested Darren Lee Helms Jr. Wednesday at the Ohio County Magistrate Office after Helms turned himself in for failure to appear in court to answer two dog offenses.
Helms, 27, of 7 Suncrest Ave., had been scheduled to appear in court on May 12 on charges of letting his dog run free and failure to produce proof of rabies vaccination. Helms is free on $1,000 bond.
In a criminal complaint filed Feb. 19, McCroskey stated he responded to a call on Suncrest Avenue regarding a dog running loose, chasing people and trying to bite them.
Photo by Fred Connors/City Solicitor Rosemary Humway-Warmuth and Dog Warden Doug McCroskey discuss the role of a county dog warden working within Wheeling city limits.
"Neighbors called and said the dog was chasing them while they were waiting for their children to get off of the school bus," he said.
McCroskey said the rottweiler-shepherd mix charged him, growling and showing his teeth as he exited his vehicle.
"I was not able to snag him with the catch pole, so I hit him with the pole as a defensive move to keep (the dog) from attacking me," he said.
He said he followed the dog to a side porch and saw Helms open the door and let it inside the residence.
He then was unable to provide proof of vaccination documents.
Helms pleaded not guilty to the charge during his arraignment on Feb. 25 but he failed to appear for his May 12 court appearance.
Wheeling City Solicitor Rose Humway Warmuth said last week the county dog warden has jurisdiction within city limits and he should be called when animal issues develop.
"There are two components to handling animal issues," she said. "One is a possible citation and the other is containment."
She said the Ohio County Animal Shelter is a holding place for problem animals much the same as the Northern Regional Jail is used for people.
McCroskey said his agency is better equipped than the police department to handle problem animals.
"We have catch poles, snappy snares, traps and cages," he said. "They do not."
He said police officers call his office when possible but they may have to take drastic immediate measures such as putting the animal down if a situation becomes dangerous for the officer or the public.