Dogfight at Lewes farmers market sparks policy change
LEWES — A dogfight at this year’s Historic Lewes Farmers Market opening day has accelerated a change in market rules. The market has adopted a policy of no pets.
The fight occurred May 26, as hundreds of market patrons shopped for produce and other locally produced items. The market is held on the grounds of the Lewes Historical Society’s complex on Shipcarpenter Street.
Rep. Pete Schwarzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, went to the market to hear a talk by Delaware Secretary of Agruculture Ed Kee. Schwarzkopf said he was eating ice cream with a group of friends when the fight started.
“I could hear growling and dogfighting noise, and it didn’t stop,” he said. Schwartzkopf said he couldn’t see the fight until he ran around a corner behind a vendor.
“I saw two pit bulls, and they were both powerful dogs. When I turned the corner, I saw someone trying to kick one dog. I saw one was without a leash, and a lady was trying to pull back on the dog on a leash,” he said.
Schwartzkopf said he saw the smaller dog was not on a leash, and he made his move to break up the fight when the small dog tried to get a better bite-hold on the large dog’s shoulder.
“I reached in at a moment the small dog opened its jaws to take a bite, and I grabbed it by its collar, yanked the dog away and twisted the collar a little to control it,” he said.
Schwartzkopf said he was fortunate to grab the dog between bite holds because pit bulls lock their jaws, making it difficult to separate them from a victim.
Schwartzkopf said as soon as he separated them, the dog he grabbed calmed down. He said he held the dog by its collar at arm’s length to make sure it couldn’t attack him. The hold also made the collar somewhat restrict the dog’s oxygen flow, Schwartzkopf said.
“I laid him down and released the collar twist, and he was fine; I was petting and holding him there. His mouth was bloody, and someone brought over a bottle of water, and I gave him some,” Schwartzkopf said.
He said someone brought a leash, and when they attached it they found a tag on the collar with a name and a Virginia telephone number.
They called the number and learned the dog had been at a home on Third Street. “They thought the dog was in the yard, but it had dug under a fence and escaped, came to farmers market and got into a fight,” Schwarzkopf said.
He said the woman who was pulling back the larger dog fell backward but wasn’t injured. The woman’s dog had a torn ear but was otherwise fine, Schwarzkopf said.
“It was a scary situation that could have been a lot worse, because the unleashed dog could have easily turned and attacked people,” he said.
A retired Delaware State Trooper who served 25 years, Schwarzkopf said the dogfight triggered his first-responder instinct to move quickly to a trouble spot. He said the entire incident happened in less than a minute.
Working as a state trooper, he said, he was involved in fights with dogs and people. “Sometimes you walk away in better shape than you do in others,” he said.