Md. county aide killed by her dog was engaged to K-9 officer

WASHINGTON — Hours of effort to save 28-year-old Jenna Rae Sutphin’s life failed at the hospital Thursday after a Maryland State Police trooper found her being attacked by her fiance’s dog near their home in Huntingtown, Maryland.

Troopers killed the large, muscular white dog — a Dogo Argentino, which the American Kennel Club describes as a pack hunting dog, bred for the pursuit of big game.

Sutphin and her fiance had at least two dogs on the property, kept in separate outdoor kennels. Her fiance is a 12-year Prince George’s County Department of Corrections officer who was at a training session with his new K-9 partner when the attack happened, said Yolonda Smedley, with the Prince George’s County Department of Corrections.

Sutphin’s fiance, Jason Hammer, went through a 16-week training with his partner, a 1-year-old Malinois shepherd mix, Smedley said.

The dog lived at the couple’s home in Huntingtown, as did the Dogo that attacked Sutphin.

“In order to be a K-9 officer, the home has to be inspected,” Smedley said. “They go through an interview process. They are not selected unless they fit the criteria and can take care of the dog appropriately.”

She could not say how many dogs are on the property or whether the couple bred dogs.

Smedley knows Hammer and Sutphin personally and said her entire department is grieving. Sutphin worked for the county since 2014 and moved from the Department of Corrections to the Office of Law, working as an aide for the county attorney since May 2016.

“We’re very saddened. We’ve asked that our directors at the various departments, reach out and have grief counselors available to our staff members,” said County Executive Rushern Baker after Sutphin’s attack.

Baker said Sutphin’s parents, one of whom is retired, worked for the county, as does her aunt.

In a statement from the Office of Law, County Attorney Jared McCarthy said in part, “Jenna was an exemplary employee with a positive spirit that made her a popular co-worker in the Office of Law … Many members of the Sutphin family have dedicated their careers to the Prince George’s County government. It was evident that Jenna possessed the same passion to serve our residents and continue her family’s legacy of service to this government.”

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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