Cut Artery Cited in Fatal Dog Attack

By Joshua Partlow
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 12, 2006

One of the three pit bulls that attacked an elderly Calvert County man this week severed at least one of his arteries, possibly causing him to bleed to death, investigators said yesterday.

Raymond Tomco, 78, who was found on the floor of his Lusby home Wednesday afternoon with "numerous" bites on his hands and arms, had a severed artery in his left forearm from a dog bite, said Cpl. Darron Makrokanis of the county Sheriff's Office. Tomco had been taking a prescription anticoagulant, Coumadin, used to prevent and treat blood clots, and that could have made the bleeding worse, he said.

Tomco "obviously had a lot going on, trying to defend himself from the dogs, and he probably just couldn't control the bleeding at that point," Makrokanis said.

Police were awaiting autopsy results.

The three pit bulls in the home and the two chained outside belonged to Tomco's daughter, Christina Tomco, 26.

Records show that neighbors complained repeatedly about the dogs running loose. The county cited Christina Tomco nine times in recent years for having unlicensed and unrestrained dogs, an animal control officer said.

"The dogs were always running loose. They almost attacked my wife and my daughter," said John Curran, 34, who lived near the Tomcos in the White Sands neighborhood for several years before moving about two months ago.

One evening, Curran said, he found two pit bulls had pinned his yellow Labrador retriever. Another day, the dogs rushed at his wife and young daughter, slamming against his pickup as they hurried in the vehicle.

"My wife was pretty frantic about it," he said. "I said if I catch them again I'm going to kill them."

Between June 2004 and March 2005, Christina Tomco received four citations for allowing her dogs off her property without leashes and five for failing to license them, and she was issued fines totaling $600, said animal control officer Jennifer Vitale. Christina Tomco raised and sold pit bulls, authorities said.

The dogs, which were sexually mature, had not been spayed or neutered, and three had expired rabies vaccinations, Vitale said. "They're like rowdy teenagers with a bad attitude. They're not afraid to fight," she said.

On Wednesday, animal control officer Tom Guy shot and killed Onyx, a 50-pound dog, at the home. The other four pit bulls were taken to the Tri-County Animal Shelter in Hughesville, where they will be euthanized.

The town of North Beach bans pit bulls, but they are allowed in other parts of Calvert. County Commissioner Susan Shaw (R-Huntingtown) said yesterday that she would be "absolutely willing to consider" a pit bull ban, especially in more densely populated parts of Calvert.

Staff researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report.

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