Chi Gam's 'Sketch' finds self in legal quandary

by Jennifer Garfinkel | 10/21/04 5:00am

Sketch, a canine who is also a member of Chi Gamma Epsilon fraternity, has been in the doghouse recently after being reported to police for biting two local residents.

The bloodhound and beagle mix bit an EBA's delivery man Saturday night, resulting in Chi Gam's second dog-related summons in recent weeks. The first summons was issued on Oct. 12 when Sketch bit a Hanover resident on the back of the leg. That victim was treated at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

The EBA's delivery man was unavailable to comment, but a restaurant manager said that two other delivery boys were chased by Chi Gam's dog as well. She declined to comment further, saying, "I don't want to make any enemies."

Chi Gam has owned Sketch for a little more than a year. Sketch, who wore a fraternity pledge placard last winter, now lives in the house and attends fraternity meetings.

Born July 25, 2003, Sketch came to Chi Gam from an animal shelter in Detroit, Mich. The fraternity members are not aware of Sketch having a traumatic upbringing, but they have seen him shaking in his sleep, leading some to believe he is having nightmares. Chi Gam member Alex Gelman '06 plans to take Sketch to the veterinarian on Friday to have him checked for brain parasites and to talk about the dog's options.

"He is calm but when he feels he or the house is threatened, he acts up," said Chi Gam president Stephen Clarke '05. Clarke cited the following instance. "We had a situation a few weeks ago where guys from UPenn ran up to him just to instigate him and get him to react," he said.

As of now, the fraternity intends to keep Sketch, but Gelman said it has looked into the possibility of sending the dog to live with a Chi Gam alumnus or a current member's family.

The house is divided on the best future for Sketch. Some want the dog to be taken away because they think of him as a liability and a danger, but others want him stay because he is "part of the brotherhood."

"I'm personally torn. I love Sketch, but I don't want us losing the house because of him," Gelman said.

Even non-members recognize Sketch's potential. "I think Sketch is a great dog. I've had nothing but good experiences with him. I've known him since he was a little puppy, and I really don't think he means any harm by his biting episodes. I think he is just going through a phase," Theta Delta Chi member Andres Reyes '05 said.

For now, Sketch has been quarantined inside the house and is disciplined according to Chi Gam standards.

"If it's something like a bark, then we'll yell at him, but if he bites or growls at somebody, then we'll hit his snout," Gelman said.

Sketch did not exercise his powers of attack when two males stole 200 compact discs and a stereo boom box from Chi Gam early Saturday morning. The thieves escaped with the loot -- and without a dog bite.

Sketch has also gotten himself into other naughty behavior. He was seen mounting a Phi Delta Alpha fraternity puppy in the Chi Gam yard on the evening of Oct. 3.

"Phi Delt's puppies were running around, and Sketch got behind one of them. All of the Chi Gam members were in the yard cheering him on," said sophomore Dan Linsalata, who witnessed the event.

The fraternity hopes that Sketch's behavior is something he will grow out of.

"He isn't suddenly acting out, he's just still young," Gelman said.

But the members of Chi Gam are looking into obedience schools -- just in case.

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