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No solid leads in unprovoked pepper spray assault on Claremont dogs

Ovie, Lego, and Finn
Ovie, Lego, and FinnJeannette Louise Smith

Finn and Ovie (named after Washington Capitals winger and Captain Alex Ovechkin) live a charmed life in a comfortable home with their dog-pal, Lego. The threesome are happy, friendly, and social dogs who enjoy full-run of the house and a doggy door in the kitchen to allow them to go outside in a secure fenced yard.

Lego, the three-legged wonder, is a rescue. Finn and Ovie are also rescues, beagles saved from a brutal life in a North Carolina animal experimentation laboratory. All three canines have adjusted to suburban life and are adored and admired for their sweet dispositions by children and adults in the neighborhood.

Their kind and loving caregivers, Bob and Kathleen, have lived in the Claremont Community near Wakefield High School for twenty three years. As any long term resident of Claremont will tell you, the Claremont Community is a relatively small and peaceful enclave of single family homes and very dog friendly neighborhood.

Thursday, December 19, 2013 was a normal day; however, when Bob returned home from work at his regular time, unlike usual, Bob was not greeted at the door by the dogs. Immediately, he knew something was amiss.

Bob found Finn in the kitchen; although he appeared fine, Finn’s eyes were completely shut. Ovie was in another room; with one eye completely shut, Ovie was drooling and rubbing his face on the floor.

Bob investigated the house and the backyard shed to ensure the dogs had not been accidentally exposed to any kind of chemicals. When Bob inspected the railed kitchen porch on the side of the house, through which the dogs enter and exit to the backyard, he found a noticeable amount of pepper spray residue on the landing.

Sometime between noon and 6pm, while Lego enjoyed a playdate with dog-friend Fiona, it was apparent someone had crossed the lawn, approached the side porch, and pepper sprayed Ovie and Finn in the eyes without provocation.

Both the Arlington County Police Department and the Animal Welfare League of Arlington Animal Control responded to the scene.

After Bob and Kathleen returned home with Ovie and Finn from the veterinarian, who placed Finn and Ovie on medication to ease discomfort and reduce the risk of infection, Kathleen alerted Claremont residents through the community email service. She alerted neighbors about the incident, to keep a watchful eye on their companions, and asked anyone with information to contact the Arlington County Police.

“Our neighborhood has always been great and is a very animal friendly community,” Kathleen says. The ordeal was a shocking experience, but Kathleen and Bob feel this is most likely an isolated incident. Kathleen recommends to “keep your guard up and look out for one another.”

“I’m glad we live in Arlington,” Kathleen adds. “The response from the police and the Animal Welfare League of Arlington was fabulous. They took the situation very seriously.”

Although both dogs were sluggish for a couple of days, they fully recovered physically and have shown no signs of trauma or change in behavior.

Ovie and Finn are survivors and their resilient response to this unusual episode is testimony to their trust and bond with humans, particularly with their family who created a safe, compassionate, and loving home environment for them.

If you have any information regarding the incident in the Claremont Community, please contact the Arlington County Police at 703-558-2222 and reference case #131219043.