The Rockville Animal Control Board has lost three of its four members through resignations that signify the continuing frustrations over how best to deal with the three Rottweilers that mauled a woman more than three months ago.

The decisions by Anne Brooke Holt, Lucinda Denton and Geoffrey S. Becker to leave their posts came as city officials moved to strip the board of much of its authority. The resignations pleased Mayor Douglas Duncan, who has been at odds with the board over the handling of the case.

In the Sept. 15 attack, Arlynn Joffe was walking with her 3-year-old son when three Rottweilers owned by a neighbor pounced on her. Her wounds required 150 stitches. Three days later, city police seized the dogs from a kennel where their owners had hidden them.

Angered by the board's decision in the case and the actions of the dogs' owners, Duncan is seeking to have the dogs destroyed. The city has placed the dogs in kennels at undisclosed locations.

The animal control board had ordered that the dogs that attacked Joffe be removed, separated and banished from the city, and refused to reconsider the case despite demands from the public that the dogs be killed. City leaders are filing an appeal in Montgomery County Circuit Court to require the board to rehear the case.

"I think their resignations are in the best interest of the city," Duncan said. "Their response {to the attack} was 'We don't care.' "

While city leaders pursue the matter in court, the dogs have been placed in two kennels in Montgomery County, and tattooed for identification on the order of a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge.

They were boarded at the kennels after their owner, Hagit Levin, removed them in October from the Rivermist Kennel in Brinklow, an action city officials considered a violation of the board's ruling.

The departures of animal board Chairwoman Holt, member Denton and alternate Becker came within one week of a Dec. 10 meeting at which Duncan and the City Council tentatively decided to strip the board of many of its duties. The newest member of the board, Dorothy Perreca, who has served less than a year, has said she wishes to remain on the panel. Board members are not paid for their service.

Holt said in her letter of resignation that Duncan and the council "publicly ignored" the board at the meeting, and that Duncan "is incapable of separating his personal feelings about a single incident from business affecting the city as a whole."

"Call me overly sensitive, but I detected a hint of hostility and intimidation in the air" at the meeting, Becker said in his letter of resignation. Becker said in his letter that while he disagreed with the board's decision in the Rottweiler case, he believes the members have become "scapegoats" in the matter.

"I'm sorry if their feelings got hurt, but our concern is the public safety," Duncan said.

Duncan and the council are rewriting city laws governing the board. A final vote is not scheduled until February, and a public hearing will be held Jan. 22. Duncan said he and the council are inclined to allow the animal control board to be involved only in nuisance cases, such as those concerning loud barking, and not in public safety cases such as those involving animal bites.

Under the proposed changes to the board's duties, city police would first handle cases in which someone is knocked down or bitten by an animal. The matter then could be addressed in an administrative hearing of the city government.

Currently, such cases are totally under the purview of the animal control board.