LITTLE EGG HARBOR — Who let the bitting dogs out ... again?

It took police an hour to corral three dogs that bit six people and terrorized a neighborhood on Monday.

And it wasn't the first time police have had to deal with these dogs, which have been accused of biting at least 12 victims over the past four months.

When police arrived about 2:15 p.m. Monday at Lake Winnipesaukee Drive, the three dogs were attacking a resident who fended them off with a stick, according to video released by Little Egg Harbor Township police. The dogs then ran into another yard.

The dogs bit a 69-year-old woman and a 40-year-old man before biting four others, police said.

Police said they have responded to seven calls in the last four months for a total of at least 12 bite victims. Police said there have been other unconfirmed reports of dog bites.

The dogs were confiscated Dec. 10 by the animal control officer but were later returned to their owners, whose identities police did not reveal Monday. Police questioned the decision to return the animals.

"Yesterday's events were horrific, and nobody should live in fear of allowing their children to play outside, walk down the street or simply get the mail," the police department's post on its Facebook page says. "The Little Egg Harbor Police Department will do everything in its power to ensure these dogs are never returned and allowed to menace this neighborhood in the future."

Under state code — Title 4, Section 19 —  dogs that have bitten a human must be quarantined for 10 days at a kennel or at the dog's home in order to check for rabies. The dog is usually then returned to its owner.

For a second offense, the owner could be charged with having a potentially dangerous or vicious dog.  The dog would be seized by the animal control officer and kept away from its owners awaiting court action.

In the case of a potentially dangerous dog charge, the owners would be required to install a fence, purchase a certain amount of insurance and have warning signage in front of their house. If the court finds that the dog is vicious, a judge could order that the dog be euthanized.

Little Egg Harbor's animal control officer did not immediately return a message on Tuesday.

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