The victim pressed assault charges after a dispute with a Cherry Hill man along the borough nature trails.
By Matt Skoufalos | April 15, 2021
A 56-year-old Cherry Hill man faces assault charges and municipal fines stemming from an altercation in a Haddonfield nature trail in which his dogs allegedly accosted another man while running off-leash.
The incident occurred around 7 a.m. April 14, when a 58-year-old Haddonfield man was walking the trails in the Crows Woods Nature Preserve off East Atlantic Avenue in Haddonfield.
Haddonfield Police Chief Jason Cutler said the Haddonfield man was approached by three off-leash dogs “that he thought were threatening,” and allegedly tried to shoo them away with his foot.
Their owner, who’d been trailing the animals by about 30 yards, allegedly approached the man and accused him of kicking the dogs. An argument ensued, during which the dog owner allegedly pepper-sprayed the Haddonfield man, who reported the incident to borough police.
The dog owner was identified as 56-year-old Kevin Bothwell of Cherry Hill. Bothwell was charged after the victim signed a complaint.
He faces assault charges and a violation of the borough municipal statute prohibiting dogs running at large, the latter of which carries a maximum penalty of $2,000 and/or 90 days in the county jail or 90 days of community service.
Complaints about off-leash dogs in Haddonfield have emerged with increasing frequency in Crows Woods and nearby Wheeler Park, Cutler said. Even instances of playing fetch or catch are prohibited by the statute.
“Unfortunately, it’s against the law,” the chief said.
“The statute exists to protect the public.”
The most prominent cases involving dog attacks in Haddonfield centered on pets owned by resident Robert Taffett, as reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer in 2017.
While Wednesday’s event didn’t rise to the same level of intensity, Cutler said it’s a good reminder for residents to keep their dogs leashed.
“I’m a dog owner,” the chief said. “I love dogs; I have two.
“Every once in a while, a dog off-leash will nip somebody,” he said. “It’s an animal instinct, and you can’t control that 100 percent of the time.”
To pre-empt subsequent incidents, Cutler said Haddonfield police will patrol the woods more often to keep an eye on conditions there.
On Thursday, a mobile LED billboard parked along East Atlantic Avenue flashed a public notice: “ALL DOGS MUST BE LEASHED AT ALL TIMES.”
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