The large, brindle-colored pit bull that mauled Oscar Ramirez's 3-year-old daughter Daniella last week was familiar to the Ramirez family and other residents of the Port Royal trailer park where they live.
About a month before the pit bull attacked and injured Daniella on Feb. 17, the dog and another large pit bull wandered into Oscar Ramirez's home through a door his wife left open while she was cleaning.
Ramirez called Port Royal Police, who took the dogs to the Beaufort County Animal Shelter in the back of a police cruiser.
The dogs soon returned to the neighborhood.
"I called the police and they came and took the dogs away and the next day, I saw the dogs again," Ramirez said. "I don't understand why they kept giving the dogs back."
It was the first of two times in two months that the dogs were impounded and released to their owner, Kevin Ramsey of Burton, according to animal control officials.
Ramsey was keeping the dogs at a relative's home in the Port Royal neighborhood, police have said.
Ramirez said he complained to authorities three more times about the dogs in the month before one of them attacked his daughter.
Ramirez wasn't alone in his concern about the dogs.
Elaine Anderson, who owns the trailer park where the Ramirez family lives, said she knows of four other complaints her tenants made to Port Royal Police and county animal control about the dogs running free in the area.
"They were reported running at large several times so (authorities) knew that the owner did not have a proper place to keep and contain the animals," Anderson said. "They were impounded the first time then impounded again in less than a month. They never should have been given back to the owner. He clearly was not responsible for the animals."
County animal control had no choice but to give the dogs back to Ramsey, said Staff Sgt. Patti Wright, animal control spokeswoman.
Wright said county ordinance requires that an impounded animal be released to its owner if he can prove ownership and is willing to pay the related fines and fees.
The fees range from a $50 redemption fee to a $25 a day boarding fee to a $200 "intact animal fine" for a pet that is not spayed or neutered, according to county records.
Information on how much Ramsey paid to reclaim his dogs was not available Thursday.
The dog that attacked Daniella was shot and killed by a Port Royal police officer during the attack. The whereabouts of the other pit bull were unclear Thursday.
Ramsey was charged last week with one misdemeanor count of owning a dangerous animal that attacked or injured a human. He was released Saturday from the Beaufort County Detention Center on a $10,000 bond, according to court records.
Daniella Ramirez is recovering at her family's home in Port Royal, and will undergo surgery next week to repair her right ear, which was badly damaged in the attack, her father says.
While the little girl recuperates, Anderson said county officials should consider banning pit bulls and toughening its animal control regulations to prevent future attacks."I know that any dog could have done this, but pit bulls have a reputation," said Anderson, who does not allow her tenants to own dogs. "The law itself needs to be changed but what will that take? How many people have to die?"