Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Jackson girl, 6, flown to Ann Arbor hospital after being attacked by three pit bulls

By Aaron Aupperlee, Jackson Citizen Patriot

A 6-year-old girl was attacked by three pit bulls this afternoon and flown to the University of Michigan Medical Center with severe wounds.

A helicopter took off from Allegiance Health at 4:53 p.m. The girl’s family said she was responsive and talking but had deep cuts from the dogs.

“They just tore her face and head up,” said Mark Taylor, the girl’s uncle.

Tyah Norris was playing with a friend Monday afternoon at 118 Mantle Ave. when one pit bull jumped on her back and knocked her to the ground, said Devin Osborne, 8, a friend of Tyah. Two other dogs came and attacked the girl’s head.

Osborne ran from the Mantle Avenue home to Tyah’s house at 2618 Ganson St. Charlie Norris, Tyah’s uncle, and Linda Powers, her grandmother, went to the house. Norris hit the dogs in the head with a four-by-four piece of lumber and grabbed Tyah. Powers said she held her granddaughter as they waited for police to arrive.

“Her face is covered in blood. They ripped her ear off,” Powers said. “That poor baby.”

A Blackman Township Department of Public Safety officer took Tyah to Allegiance. The Jackson County Sheriff's Office said she is in critical condition at the Ann Arbor hospital.

Powers and Norris had blood on their clothes and bodies from helping Tyah. Family members stood outside the Ganson Street house crying and praying for Tyah. Around 4:45 p.m., they left for Ann Arbor.

The owner of dogs, who lives at 118 Mantle Ave., declined to comment on the incident. The sheriff's office said it has seized the three dogs.

Update August 24, 2010 5:58pm - The following article is by Aaron Aupperlee, Jackson Citizen Patriot:

Jackson girl bit by pit bull to undergo nine hours of surgery, family says

A 6-year-old girl attacked by three pit bulls Monday afternoon will undergo nine hours of surgery tonight at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor.

Surgeons will attempt to repair Tyah Norris’ tear ducts and do plastic surgery to reverse damage done to the child’s head, said Charlie Norris, Tyah’s uncle. Much of Tyah’s family remains at the hospital.

Tyah is in serious condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Three pit bulls attacked Tyah around 3:44 p.m. while she played with a friend in the yard of 118 Mantle Ave. The dogs were in a fenced-in area with Tyah when one knocked her down and the other two joined in on the attack, according to a release from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.

Back at the Norris’ Ganson Street home, Mark Taylor, another uncle of Tyah’s, was cleaning the house. He said he wanted to be helpful and useful and did not want Tyah’s family to worry about anything when they come home. He was encouraged by the news of Tyah’s improving condition.

“It sounds like she’s going to make it,” Taylor said. “That’s all that matters.”

The three dogs were seized by Jackson County Animal Control officers and quarantined at the Jackson County Animal Shelter, the released stated. The attack remains under investigation. The sheriff’s office intends to submit its report to the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office for review.

No arrests have been made, said sheriff’s Sgt. Chris Kuhl.

Animal Control officers responded to a second and unrelated pit bull attack earlier this afternoon in Parma Township.

A 6-year-old girl was bitten in the face by a chained dog in the 1200 block of Devereaux Road, according to the sheriff’s release. The girl was taken to Oaklawn Hospital in Marshall, treated and released with stitches.

The dog has been seized, the release stated. The incident is under investigation and the report will be sent to the prosecutor’s office.

Update August 25, 2010 10:36am - The following article is from WFRV:

Pit bulls to be euthanized after attack on girl, 6

Three pit bulls that attacked and severely wounded a 6-year-old Jackson County girl will be put to sleep.
Tyah Norris
Undersheriff Tom Finco tells the Jackson Citizen Patriot on Wednesday that the dogs' owner gave authorities permission to euthanize the animals.
The dogs were seized Tuesday after Tyah Norris was attacked while playing with a friend. One dog knocked the girl down and the others joined the attack.
The child was in serious condition at an Ann Arbor hospital.
Finco says the dogs were not licensed, but did have their shots.
Another girl was bitten in the face Tuesday in a separate pit bull attack in nearby Parma Township. The newspaper reports she received stitches.
Finco says that dog's owner is quarantining the animal at home for 10 days.

Update August 26, 2010 8:14am - The following article is by Danielle Quisenberry, Jackson Citizen Patriot:

6-year-old attacked by pit bulls needs about 500 stitches; family says girl is recovering

Extensive surgery succeeded in repairing much of the damage done to a 6-year-old girl attacked by three pit bulls Tuesday afternoon.

Tyah Norris has staples and about 500 stitches in her head and face, said her uncle Charley Norris. Doctors at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor repaired her eye muscles and tear ducts, and used an artificial material to patch her scalp.

“She’s going to be fine,” Norris said. “It’s a long road ahead. The most important thing now is her recovery.”

Much of Tyah’s family stayed at the hospital all day Wednesday. Doctors kept her sedated to help with the pain, Norris said. Recovery could take months or years. Tyah will be a first-grader at East Jackson Memorial Elementary School this fall.

Three pit bulls attacked Tyah about 3:45 p.m. Tuesday while she played with a friend in a fenced-in area at 118 Mantle Ave. Initial reports indicate one dog knocked Tyah down and the remaining dogs joined in attacking her, according to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.

Tyah initially went to Allegiance Health. From there, she was flown to Ann Arbor, where a hospital spokeswoman said she was in serious condition Wednesday.

An account has been set up at Citizens Bank to help Tyah and her family. Anyone wishing to donate to the Tyah Norris Benefit Fund may do so at any Citizens Bank location.
Jackson County animal control officers seized and quarantined the pit bulls after the attack.

Two of the three are to be euthanized. Undersheriff Tom Finco said their owner, who is entitled to a court hearing, signed off on the euthanizations.

The third dog belongs to a different owner who as of Wednesday afternoon had not agreed to have the animal euthanized, said Steve Hall, county environmental health director, who oversees the animal shelter.

He said the animal will be confined, pursuant to state rabies protocol, for 10 days. If the owner disputes its destruction, the court decides what happens to the dog after a hearing, according to Michigan law.

The dogs were not licensed, which is required, Finco said. They did have their shots, he said.

The 118 Mantle Ave. property violated a Blackman Township ordinance on dog ownership. The township defines a kennel as any lot with three or more dogs that are 4 months old or older, said Jack Koch, the township’s zoning administrator.

Kennels are allowed only in agriculturally zoned areas. Mantle Avenue, just outside the Jackson city limits and near the intersection of Ganson Street and E. Michigan Avenue, is not so zoned, Koch said.

“Without coming out and saying it, you can only have two dogs in Blackman Township,” Koch said.

He suspects there could be several properties in the township in violation.

Norris said news that the dogs would be euthanized came as a small relief.

“If those dogs are put down, then it can’t happen to another kid,” he said.

The attack was one of two reported to the sheriff’s office Tuesday.

In an unrelated incident, a lab-shepherd mix bit a child in the face in the 12000 block of Devereaux Road in Parma Township. The girl received stitches and was released from Oaklawn Hospital in Marshall.

With the owner’s permission, the dog, which also was unlicensed, was euthanized Wednesday, Finco said. Sheriff’s deputies first reported a pit bull was responsible for the attack, but Hall said it was a lab-shepherd mix.

On July 11, a pit bull bit Joe Williams of Jackson as he stood talking to a friend at Grinnell and Union streets. It took about 100 stitches to mend the wounds that wrapped around his forearm, and he had puncture marks on his chest.

The dog in that attack was taken to the county animal shelter and has since been euthanized by court order, Finco said. It also had no license.

Finco said Sheriff Dan Heyns plans to meet with other county and law-enforcement officials to come up with a plan to address pit bulls.

“Hopefully, we can be more proactive than reactive,” Finco said.

That might involve more licensing checks, for example, he said.

Update August 27, 2010 12:12pm - The following article is by Danielle Quisenberry, Jackson Citizen Patriot: 

Owners of pit bulls that attacked 6-year-old girl are charged with felony

The owners of three pit bulls who attacked 6-year-old Tyah Norris on Tuesday have been charged with a felony.

Brian Keith Nace and his girlfriend, Jasmine Jammina Bailey, were arraigned this afternoon on a charge of keeping a dangerous animal that caused serious injury. The crime has a maximum penalty of four years in prison, 500 hours of community service and a $2,000 fine.

The two were arrested and jailed today.

“In my opinion too many people and other animals have been bitten and terrorized. Owning a dog, especially one which has a  proven potential to do great harm, comes with responsibilities,” Prosecutor Hank Zavislak said in a statement.

“We intend to hold the owners fully accountable as provided by law.”

Tyah was at the couple’s home on Tuesday when the pit bulls attacked her. She remains at the University of Michigan Health System’s C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor. She had to have more than 500 stitches and has a long recovery ahead of her.

All three of the animals since have been euthanized.

Update September 14, 2010 12:25pm - The following article is by Danielle Quisenberry, Jackson Citizen Patriot:

Woman accused of keeping a pit bull that injured young girl sent to jail for probation violation; girl released from hospital after 2 weeks

Jackson County Circuit Judge John McBain sent a woman accused of keeping a pit bull that seriously injured a 6-year-old girl to 333 days in jail for violating her probation.

Jasmine Bailey, 19, was on probation for larceny from a building on Aug. 24 when her pit bull joined two others, owned by her boyfriend, in attacking Tyah Norris.

McBain said he gave Bailey the harshest possible jail sentence because she was charged with a new felony, and there was evidence presented at a hearing today that she had been drinking. Drinking alcohol is not allowed while on probation.

He called the attack on Tyah the most savage he had ever seen.

Both Bailey and her boyfriend, Brian Nace, 35, were charged with keeping a dangerous animal that caused serious injury, a felony punishable by a maximum of four years in prison, 500 hours of community service and a $2,000 fine.

Their dogs reportedly played “tug of war” with Tyah inside Nace and Bailey’s fenced yard at 118 Mantle Ave. in Blackman Township.

Tyah went to Allegiance Health and was then flown to the University of Michigan Health System’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor.

She spent at least two weeks in the hospital, underwent surgeries, and has since been discharged.

At the time of the attack, Bailey was home with her dog, Diamond, and her parents, Scooby and Pebbles, which belonged to Nace.

Nace was at work and the dogs were off their chains and running about the back yard. Tyah was warned not to go back there, but did anyway, Bailey earlier said.

All three dogs have been eunthanized with Nace and Bailey’s permission.

Update September 27, 2010 8:44am - The following article is by Danielle Quisenberry, Jackson Citizen Patriot:

Young pit bull victim Tyah Norris is healing but faces long road to recovery

Linda Powers was sitting on the couch in her home on E. Ganson Street last week when her 6-year-old granddaughter, Tyah Norris, took off running toward the kitchen.

"Quit running, please," Powers yelled to the girl, who moments earlier had been quietly coloring on the living room floor. The grandmother's tone was more concerned than harsh.

"If she falls, her head is done," Powers said after the girl disappeared from view.

"That is my world right there, that little girl."

Tyah's  head is wrapped in white cloth or gauze that is painful to clean, dress and undress. Beneath it, there is no skin, said her mother and grandmother, who live together with Tyah and Powers' husband and son.

Below the wrapping are obvious pink scars, particularly to her cheek and around her swollen eyes. Some of them may remain forever, her mother said.

Three pit bulls attacked Tyah on Aug. 24 inside a fenced area behind 118 Mantle Ave., a home within Tyah's block and easily accessible through the yards behind her and her family's house. The dogs have since been euthanized and their owners each face a felony charge.

"It was a horrible, horrible sight. I can't stand it every time I think about it," Powers said last week.

The resulting wounds were atrocious by all accounts. Seasoned police and prosecutors seemed struck, even shaken, by the extent of the injuries that are now slowly healing.

Powers still has the pink T-shirt she wore the afternoon of the mauling, when she held Tyah and waited for police. It is covered in dried blood.

"I didn't want no more bites," Tyah said Tuesday of the attack. She had gone to another room and brought the shirt to Powers.

"I know you didn't, Ty," her grandmother responded, speaking softly.

Tyah spent almost three weeks at the University of Michigan Health System's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor.

She left Sept. 13 and returns weekly, said her mother, Joyce Norris, 25, as she stood outside their house, watching Tyah closely as she moved about the yard.

The first grader at East Jackson Memorial Elementary School is doing better, but she will not be going back to the classroom anytime soon. First, her head must get better, her mother said.

"There is a long road ahead of pain and procedures and healing," said Tyah's father, Billy Hattey, 26, of Jackson.

Norris said Tyah likely will need three to four more surgeries in the next six months. On Oct. 19, doctors are to take skin from her thigh and use it to repair the skin on her head.

Her thigh will heal, but there might be some discoloring in the skin, said Norris, who does not like the thought of such a procedure.

"That's just another process of pain she has to go through," Norris said.

"I'd rather they use my skin."

Doctors said there is a greater possibility of success with Tyah's own skin, Norris said.

Later, they might have to do further surgery on her face. Doctors already had to repair damage done to her eyes and nose and other features.

The left side of her face is numb and she only can manage a slightly mischievous half-smile.

At night, she has to wear tubes in her nose to keep her airways open. Medical personnel had to stitch her nose after it was torn away and were afraid the passages would shrink, Norris said.

Tyah, who likes to paint and eat macaroni and cheese, talks a lot about what happened, Norris said. She speaks freely to family members, but was hesitant to share with a stranger.

Norris said she asks, "Why did this happen to me?"

"And what do you tell her?" Norris said.

Shortly before the attack, Tyah said Abbie Granger, a 10-year-old who lives at the Mantle Avenue address, invited her into the yard, a space enclosed by a six-foot, wood privacy fence. "Beware" and "no trespassing" signs are pinned to its exterior.

"I thought they were little," Tyah said of the dogs.

"If they told me they were pit bulls, I wouldn't have gone back there."

Abbie and Jasmine Bailey, one of the pit bull owners, have a different version.

They said they cautioned Tyah about going into the back yard and the girl ignored their warnings.

Bailey, 19, has since gone to jail for violating her probation, in part because she was charged with a new felony.

When her dog, Diamond, and its mother and father went after Tyah, Bailey was on probation for a February 2008 larceny offense.

Her boyfriend, Brian Nace, 35, owned the other two dogs, Scooby and Pebbles.

Both he and Bailey are charged with keeping a dangerous animal that caused serious injury, which has a maximum penalty of four years in prison, 500 hours of community services and a $2,000 fine. The two are next scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 29.

Both say the dogs were not previously violent.

"They knew them dogs were mean. They had to have," said Powers, who cares for Tyah while her mother works. Norris cleans Leslie schools and is a part-time Burger King manager.

At first, Norris was angry about the attack every time she saw her daughter, scared and hurt.

She said she couldn't imagine a much worse situation than getting that phone call about Tyah. At the time of the attack, Norris was at work in Leslie.

"It was something I wouldn't ever, ever want a parent to feel. It is a horrible feeling," Norris said.

She and Hattey are thankful for Blackman Township Public Safety Officer Randy Hengesbaugh, the first arriving emergency worker.

Thinking an ambulance would not come quickly enough, he took Tyah to Allegiance Health himself, which is not the usual protocol. For this, the family thanks him.

"I think he saved her life," Hattey said.

To prevent future attacks like this, Hattey said he would like to see something done about pit bulls.

There should be stricter licensing rules and felons should not be allowed to have them, he said. "To me, it's like having a gun," Hattey said.

Since Tyah's hospitalization, there has been much community debate about pit bulls and an outpouring of support for Tyah.

Left at the Ganson Street house recently, was a teddy bear with a simple, unsigned note. "God bless. Hope you get better," it said.

Update August 15, 2011 - The following article is by Danielle Salisbury, Jackson Citizen Patriot:

Niece of pit bulls' owner testifies she told attack victim she could not go into fenced yard

An 11-year-old who lived with Brian Nace on Mantle Avenue said Tyah Norris asked her if she could come into the backyard.
“I said, ‘No, because I don’t know you,’” Abbie Granger testified today at Nace’s jury trial.
Nace, 36 and Abbie’s uncle, is charged with keeping dangerous animals that caused serious injury.
He owned two of three pit bulls that attacked Tyah on Aug. 24 inside Nace’s fenced yard. Tyah had extensive injuries and underwent four to five surgeries, her mother testified. Scars remain and other surgeries are in her future, Joyce Norris said.
State law defines a dangerous animal as one that bites or attacks a person. A dangerous animal, however, does not include an animal that bites or attacks a person who is “knowingly trespassing on the property of the animal’s owner,” the law says.
Nace’s lawyer, Christopher Dickerson, argues Tyah was trespassing.
Tyah and her friend Devin Osborne, 9, testified Abbie told them they could go into the yard.
Under cross examination, both children said they didn’t remember what Abbie said.
No one told them they could not go into the space, they said.
Abbie said they followed her into the yard even after she closed the gate behind her. She told them to “get out” and “beware of dog,” she said.
Devin and Tyah wanted to play, she said, and she wanted to take a shower.
Tyah lives a short distance from the Mantle Avenue home and played in the neighborhood. She was not to leave the yard behind and to the side of her grandmother’s home on E. Ganson Street, her mother testified.
Jackson County Animal Control Officer Kathie Chapin said Abbie told her a different story on the day of the attack.
Abbie said she told Tyah, who wanted to see the animals, she could open the gate and look around but could not go into the yard, Chapin said.
Abbie was the final trial witness and the only witness for the defense.
Lawyers are to give closing arguments Tuesday morning.
The last prosecution witness, Jackson County Sheriff’s Detective Timothy Schlundt, testified Nace told him one of the pit bulls, Scooby, previously had been aggressive.
It once bit Nace’s girlfriend in the back, Nace told Schlundt.

Update August 16, 2011 - The following article is by Danielle Salisbury, Jackson Citizen Patriot:

Jurors begin deliberations in dog attack case; lawyers dispute whether 6-year-old victim trespassed

Jurors have begun deliberating in the case of a man accused of keeping the dogs that mauled then 6-year-old Tyah Norris in August 2010.
Brian Nace, the owner of at least two of the three pit bulls that attacked Tyah, is accused of a felony, having dangerous animals that caused serious injury.
The case hinges on whether Tyah trespassed onto Nace's property. His backyard, where the dogs were housed, is surrounded by a six-foot privacy fence. State law says an animal is not dangerous if it attacks or bites someone who knowingly tresspasses onto its owner's property.
"A 6-year-old cannot knowingly trespass," Assistant Prosecutor Jared Hopkins said.
Tyah and her friend, Devin Osborne, 9, testified Nace's niece, who lives with Nace, allowed them into the yard.
Nace's niece said she told Tyah she could not go into the yard. "She was not supposed to be in that back yard," said Nace's lawyer, Christopher Dickerson, who indicated Tyah's caretakers should have kept a better eye on her whereabouts.
Dickerson said Nace did all he could to keep people away from the dogs, which were kept in cages when no one was home. At least one warning sign marked the yard.
Who knows if Tyah, at 6 years old, could read it, Hopkins said. In her mind, she was permitted to enter the yard, he said.
The real culprits are the dogs, which have been euthanized with Nace's permission, Dickerson said.
"Did something bad happen? Yes," Dickerson said. "Is Mr. Nace criminally responsible? No."
Hopkins said Nace could have done more. He could have put a lock on the gate, and gotten rid of the dogs when one of them, according to testimony, earlier bit Nace's girlfriend.

Update August 16, 2011 - The following article is by Danielle Salisbury, Jackson Citizen Patriot:

Jury finds owner of pit bulls guilty for attack on 6-year-old Tyah Norris

A jury convicted Brian Nace today of keeping dangerous animals that caused serious injury to then 6-year-old Tyah Norris in August 2010.
Retired Jackson County Circuit Judge Edward Grant, who has been filling in while the county is short one Circuit judge, is to sentence Nace on Sept. 22.
Jurors arrived at their verdict in less than an hour, at about 10:20 a.m., said Christopher Dickerson, Nace’s lawyer.
Dickerson did not dispute Nace was the owner of the dogs that mauled Tyah or that her injuries were severe. He argued Tyah was trespassing onto Nace’s property, where he kept the dogs in a fenced yard marked with warning signs. According to state law, an animal is not dangerous if it attacks a trespasser.
Tyah and one of her friends testified Nace’s niece, who lived at the house, allowed them into the yard. The niece said she told Tyah not to go into the space.
Assistant Prosecutor Jared Hopkins told the jury a 6-year-old cannot knowingly trespass.
Dickerson said Nace likely will not spend more than nine months in jail for the offense, but he was not certain of this.

Update August 17, 2011 - The following article is from WLNS:

Woman Heads To Trial In Pit bull Attack Case

Just one day after a Jackson County jury convicted her boyfriend, a Jackson woman heads to trial in connection with a brutal pittbull attack.
It's been a year since three pit bulls attacked then 6-year old Tyah Norris. Jasmine Bailey is accused of keeping a dangerous animal that caused serious injury.
On Tuesday a jury convicted her boyfriend Brian Nace on the same charges. Nace will be sentenced next month. He faces up to nine months in jail.

Update August 17, 2011 - The following article is by Danielle Salisbury, Jackson Citizen Patriot:

Animal control officer testifies Jasmine Bailey signed paperwork, said she was owner of one of three pit bulls that attacked Tyah Norris

Hours after her boyfriend, Brian Nace, claimed three dogs that attacked 6-year-old Tyah Norris, Jasmine Bailey informed Animal Control Officer Kathie Chapin she owned one of the pit bulls.
Nace's dogs, Pebbles and Scooby, had had puppies and he allowed Bailey to keep one, Chapin testified this afternoon at Bailey's jury trial. She was recalling a conversation she had with Bailey on Aug. 26, 2010, two days after the attack.
Testimony is to continue Thursday morning. Bailey is charged with keeping a dangerous animal that caused serious injury to Tyah, now 7.
The trial hinges on ownership of the youngest of the three dogs, and Chapin's testimony was critical.
Bailey's lawyer, Michael Dungan, argues Bailey did not own any of the dogs and took responsibility for one of the animals to try to help Nace, 36. A jury convicted him Tuesday of the same felony Bailey faces.
The dogs were not licensed. The only way to determine the owner or owners was to talk to people, Chapin said, answering questions posed by Assistant Prosecutor Jared Hopkins.
Bailey signed three pieces of paper indicating she was the owner of the dog, Diamond, according to documents presented in court and Chapin's testimony.
Diamond and the other two dogs were euthanized shortly after the attack.
When earlier testifying, Chapin did not mention the conversation about the puppies, Dungan pointed out during cross examination.

Update: September 22, 2011 - The following article is by Sherene Tagharobi, from WLIX:

Owners of Vicious Pit Bulls Sentenced

"I feel really bad about what happened to Tyah," said Jasmine Bailey, a 20-year-old Blackman Township woman who owned one of three pitbulls that mauled her six year old neighbor Tyah Norris last August. "I wish I could have did more to prevent that from happening."

Judge Edward Grant sentenced the 20-year-old with a criminal history to 180 days in jail. She was living with her boyfriend Brian Nace when his niece let Tyah into their yard.

"There's apparently nothing to fasten the gate shut so anybody can open up the gate," said Judge Grant.

Nace's attorney argued he has no criminal record and wasn't even home at the time. He said Nace did everything he could to prevent this from happening.

Furthermore, he argued Nace did nothing but own the pitbulls. But for Judge Grant, that was enough given this wasn't the first time they'd bitten someone. The dog had bitten Bailey before.

"And yet the same dog bit you on two prior occasions. I have to take all that into consideration too. It might be a little different if this was the first time the dog ever bit anybody but it's not," said Judge Grant.

Nace will serve 120 days in jail and five years probation. The sentence was difficult for his family friends to bear, but so is what happened to tyah.

"He probably shouldn't have gotten in trouble but you have to take blame for whatever, your own....no matter who's kid you wouldn't want to see them get hurt," said Amy Haught, Nace's family friend.

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jared Hopkins hopes the rulings set a precedent for other animal attacks.

"I hope if anything this will put pibtull owners on notice. Especially if your dog has bitten before, do something about it. No kid, no person has to die because someone wants to hang on to a dangerous animal," Hopkins said.

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