Gerald LaMonica was planning a quick walk Saturday evening, but opted instead for a longer route.
He's glad he did.
The 75-year-old Dearborn Heights man rounded the corner onto Colgate Street just in time to see a dog run out from behind its owner's gate, knock down a child and bite her. He ran over.
"I hollered in a loud voice and kicked it in the chest," LaMonica said. "It grabbed my leg."
The dog retreated to its owner's yard. And both LaMonica and the 10-year-old girl were transported to Oakwood Hospital. LaMonica has 15 stitches in his right calf. He said the child suffered bites to the forearm and knee.
"Anybody with any brains at all would not have stood and watched something like that," he said. "I thank the Lord that I was there at the right time. If not, he could have went for her throat."
Relatives at the girl's home today declined to comment about the attack and her condition. Neighbors say the girl, who is the daughter of a Dearborn Heights Police officer, appears to be doing all right.
But the owner of the 2-year-old American Pit Bull Terrier named Tigger says she's devastated.
Laura Langston, 37, said animal control officers took her dog away. Police have since informed the single mother of three that he will be euthanized -- and she will be facing charges.
Dearborn Heights Police did not release any information today about the incident.
Langston said the attack occurred around 6 p.m. Saturday while she was cooking dinner. She said her 10-year-old daughter, Rini, went out into the front yard to play with the victim, who lives several houses down. Rini accidentally left the gate unlatched and Tigger snuck out, Langston said.
"He never got out before," she said. "I didn't know the dog was outside until I heard screaming and commotion. I don't know why he went after that little girl."
Langston said Tigger normally loves children, including Rini, her oldest daughter, Jenna, 16, and her toddler son, Robert, 2. The dog hadn't bitten anyone before, she added.
"We've never had any problems with this dog. If he was vicious, he wouldn't be in my house," Langston said. "If he had showed any aggression, he would have been gone a long time ago."
The incident is the latest among a series of pit bull attacks in Metro Detroit in recent months in Warren, Westland, Sterling Heights, Waterford Township and Rochester Hills.
Update November 30, 2010 11:05am - The following article is by J. Patrick Pepper, Press & Guide:
Woman pleads guilty to owning dangerous dog
A woman whose pit bull terrier attacked two people in September pleaded no contest Monday to having a dangerous animal causing serious injury.
Laura Langston made the plea in front of Wayne County Circuit Judge Carole Youngblood. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 20 and the maximum penalty for the charge is four years in prison.
By pleading to one count, Langston avoids possible conviction on the two counts she initially was charged with.
The charges stem from an attack in the 24000 block of Colgate in the city’s south end. Langston’s pit bull terrier, Tigger, attacked a 10-year-old girl who was riding down the street on a scooter Sept. 25.
As Tigger was biting the girl, a passerby intervened. The passerby, 75-year-old Heights resident Gerald LaMonica, managed to get the dog to release the girl, but was bit in the process.
Both victims escaped with moderate injuries. The girl required 14 stitches for cuts on her arms and legs, while LaMonica had one wound on his leg that required 15 stitches to close.
Langston blamed the incident on her daughter. She said her daughter, who is friends with the 10-year-old victim, forgot to shut a backyard gate, allowing the dog to roam free. Langston is quoted in published reports saying the dog always had a sweet disposition and never showed any inclination to vicious behavior.
The incident, and another a few days later involving two other dogs, served as a catalyst for the Dearborn Heights City Council to review the city’s dangerous dog ordinance. City attorneys currently are researching the constitutionality of banning.
The fallout has extended past Heights city borders, too. The Dearborn City Council is studying a pit bull ban this week.
Update December 24, 2010 9:54am - The following article is by J. Patrick Pepper, Press & Guide: Woman to serve probation in pit bull attack
A woman whose pit bull attacked two people in September was sentenced Monday to two years probation for having a dangerous animal causing serious injury.
Laura Langston, 37, was sentenced in front of Wayne County Circuit Judge Carole Youngblood. The maximum penalty she could have received was four years in prison.
Langston pleaded no contest to the charge Nov. 29 and in doing so avoided possible conviction on the two counts she initially faced.
On Sept. 25 Langston’s pit bull, Tigger, escaped her backyard in the city’s south end and attacked a 10-year-old girl. The girl was saved when 75-year-old Heights resident Gerald LaMonica, who was walking by, managed to get the dog to release his bite, but LaMonica was bit in the process.
The girl required 14 stitches to close bite wounds on her arms and legs, while LaMonica needed 15 stitches to close a leg wound.
Tigger was destroyed.
In related news, Heights resident Eugene Runco, whose pit bulls also were involved in a recent attack, is headed to trial on a number of charges.
He’s charged with two counts of dangerous animals causing serious injury, a four-year felony and two counts of allowing dangerous animals to run at large, a 90-day misdemeanor.
Runco, 51, was arraigned on information Dec. 15 in Wayne County Circuit Court
Runco’s pit bulls got loose Sept. 23 and bit a neighborhood woman in a vicious attack. The mauling hospitalized the woman for days afterwards and was only broken up when a neighborhood man stopped and intervened.