Prince George's County Executive Winfield M. Kelly Jr. last week performed what could be universally called a good deed - he took in a homeless, sick dog.
Mutton, the name Kelly gave to the 5-year-old female white poddle, became part of the Kelly household of seven children and "one bird with a broken wing."
Kelly, somewhat reticent about the incident said "Anyone would have done it. The dog needed a home. I just don't want this to sound like a publicity stunt."
The county executive found the dog a week earlier while he was on his way to noon mass at the Villa Rosa Home in Mitchellville.
"The cars ahead of us were slowing down, then swerving around something in the road," he said. Kelly's car finally got to the tie-up, but instead of continuing, Kelly told his driver to stop.
A small, dirty and somewhat mangled dog was lying in the road, barking wildly at the passerby. "She looked awful, with her hair matted, and one ear practically torn off. It was such a pathetic little thing. It obviously wasn't able to take care of itself."
Kelly said he tried to persuade a lady in a white Corvette behind him to take a dog to the veterinarian, but she said "no dice."
"So I handed a $20 bill to my aide, Jim Hurl, and asked him to wait with the dog while I went ahead to mass. I was late as it was."
Hurl, a community affairs assistant for the county executive, dressed in an immaculate three-piece, powder blue suit, agreed to wait by the side of the road with the dog.
"It was kind of touching," he said of Kelly's interest in the dog. A police cruiser came along about 30 minutes after Kelly left, he said, and took the dog and the $20 to the Forestville Animal Hospital. Kelley eventually paid a total of $93 for the dog's medical care.
When Kelly went by later the next day to check on the dog, he said a "shaven, pink, rat-like looking thing" was brought out to him. "She was in such miserable shape, with her ear almost torn off and all."
Kelly's wife, Barbara, was not as enamoured of the animal as her husband, until, Kelly said, "the dog licked her hand and it was all over."
They decided to keep the animal.
Kelly's interest in the abandoned pet came just as the county council passed legislation to provide for county animal wardens. Kelly said he was not eager to sign the legislation until he learned revenues to pay the wardens, who will investigate animal cruelty, would come from a $1 increase in the dog license fee.
Kelley also admitted that the fate of such animals as his poodle would be completely in the hands of private citizens unless legislation was passed to protect them.
"I don't want to make a big deal out of this," he said. "I'm just trying to help out people do this all the time."