Sunday, June 26, 2011

Judge to decide if dog is dangerous following attack complaints

By Lydia Wheeler, The Post-Star

A judge will decided the fate of a dog that allegedly bit a 7-year-old girl and an 85-year-old woman on separate occasions in less than one month’s time.
Brittany Creel told police her daughter Kadyn needed 36 stitches after Michael Christon’s pit bull bit her in the right cheek around 7:30 p.m. on May 27.
Kadyn was staying the night at her grandparents’ house at 118 Feeder Dam Road. She wanted to have a friend from the neighborhood sleep over and walked down the road to the friend’s house to pick up pajamas.
But when they passed Christon’s house at 142 Feeder Dam Road, Creel said a black pit bull ran past flags that marked the yard’s invisible electric fence, and tackled Kadyn.
The dog control officer and police were called and reports were filed, but Creel said the dog was never removed from Christon’s home until June 16.
Around 9 a.m. that morning, Julia Scoville, 85, of 163 Feeder Dam Road, was finishing a walk through the neighborhood when two dogs acting aggressively ran out of the front yard of 142 Feeder Dam Road, jumped on her from behind and knocked her down, according to court records.
Scoville refused to speak to a reporter about the incident last week, but the court records say she was taken to the Glens Falls Hospital by the Moreau Emergency Squad and treated for severe lacerations just below her right eye as a result of a dog bite.
After the second bite, it was discovered the dog’s rabies vaccination had expired on July, 14, 2010, according to court records. The dogs were tested after the second incident, and neither had rabies.
Town Dog Control Officer Dan Styczynski said the dog was taken to the Ballston Spa SPCA after the June 16 incident. It will be held there until after the dangerous dog hearing at the Moreau Town Court on Monday at 9:30 a.m.
According to New York State Agriculture and Markets Law, if the judge deems the dog dangerous, the court can order the dog to undergo a behavioral evaluation at the expense of the owner; be confined for a period of time; be on a leash with someone at least 21 years old or muzzled whenever in a public place; order the owner to obtain a liability insurance policy in an amount to be determined by the court, but not to exceed $100,000 for personal injury or deal resulting from an attack by the dangerous dog; or order the dog to be euthanized.
But Christon said his dogs are far from dangerous.
"My dogs are jumpers, half the dogs I know are. ... I have a 1-year-old and a 10-year-old that roll around on the floor with them. This whole thing is being blown out of proportion," he said.
Christon claims the black pit bull mix allegedly responsible for biting both Kadyn Creel and Scoville is really a mutt named Ares.
"He does have some pit bull in him, but he’s a mutt," he said.
Christon claimed he saw both incidents happen and had actually warned Kadyn Creel about the dog the day before.
"The two little girls keep walking in front of my house throwing sticks at my dog, and I told them the day before the incident happened that my dog would run out if they didn’t stop and the next day my dog ran out and tackled her," he said.
Christon claims Ares was only trying to lick both Kadyn Creel and Scoville when he accidentally caught them with his claw.
Accident or not, Creel said she has spent over $10,000 in medical bills because of Christon’s dog, and her daughter will now have a scar.
She said she feels both Christon and the dog control officer were both negligent.
Christon, she said, should have kept the dogs in the back yard where there is a privacy fence after her daughter was bit. The dog control office should have realized the rabies shots were out of date after the first incident, she added.
Creel’s lawyer, Tucker Stanclift of Glens Falls, is investigating whether a negligence lawsuit can be brought against Christon or the town of Moreau, or both.
The purpose of a negligence claim, Stanclift said, is to compensate the injured party for their losses, including medical and past and future pain and suffering.
"I wouldn’t want to be a young girl with a scar on my face for the rest of my life," he said
As for Monday’s hearing, Christon said there is no reason for the judge to order his dog to be euthanized.
"He’s not vicious. If he’s guilty of anything, it’s being stupid," he said.

Update June 28, 2011 - The following article is by Jon Alexander, The Post-Star:
Moreau dog will not be euthanized

A pitbull mix that recently bit a child and an elderly woman will not be euthanized, according to a decision rendered Monday in Moreau Town Court.
Judge Timothy Alden declared the 2-year-old pit bull mix dangerous. The court imposed a $400 fine on the dog's owner, Michael N. Christon, of 142 Feeder Dam Road.
According to court documents, the dog bit 7-year-old Kadyn Creel in the cheek after escaping from Christon's yard on the evening of May 27.
On June 16, the dog bit 85-year-old Julia Scoville after again escaping from the yard.
Both victims reported facial lacerations and incurred medical bills because of the incidents.
Alden could have had to dog euthanized, but instead ordered five conditions, including the payment of the $400 fine, that will allow
Christon to keep the canine:
- Christon must erect a fence that won't allow the dog's escape;
- The dog must be muzzled, leashed and under the control of an adult aged 21 or older whenever off premises;
- The dog must be neutered;
- The dog must have a microchip implanted beneath its skin within 30 days.
Christon will be responsible for financing the last two procedures and providing proof to the town animal control officer.
An invisible, electric fence is currently the only barrier between the dog and the outside world.
Tucker Stanclift, the lawyer for the young girl's mother, Brittany Creel, is investigating whether a negligence lawsuit can be brought against Christon or the town of Moreau, or both.
Christon said late last week that he witnessed the first incident and believes the dog was trying to lick the girl's face.

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