Press-Republican

August 31, 2013

Dog that attacked girl euthanized

By FELICIA KRIEG
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — The pit bull that attacked an 8-year-old Altona girl earlier this month was recently euthanized.

New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation Lt. John Coryea said the dog tested negative for rabies and was euthanized at a local veterinarian’s office.

“They always hold them for 10 days,” Mooers Dog Control Officer Kaleigh LaBombard said of dogs that attack humans or are suspected of having rabies.

SUFFERED BITES

Coryea said the attack happened when Olivia Downey was approaching the front door of a home on Wood Falls Road in the Town of Mooers.

A pit bull ran through the front door and attacked her, Coryea said.

The dog’s owner, John Fletcher, was eventually able to gain control of the animal, but Downey suffered multiple bites to her face, head, neck, hands and legs and was taken to CVPH Medical Center in Plattsburgh for treatment, Coryea said.

The pit bull was usually kept in a kennel inside the home, he said.

Downey’s family has filed a civil suit against Fletcher and has hired attorney Daniel P. Dagostino of the Albany-based law firm of Martin, Harding and Mazzotti to represent them.

‘THEY NEVER FORGET’

“It’s something they never forget,” LaBombard said of people who are attacked by dogs.

The girl’s aunt, Tina Peryea, said that while a dog’s disposition is due in large part to the way it is raised, she doesn’t believe pit bulls should be kept in families with children.

But Jessica Waldron of Ellenburg Depot said pit bulls can be loving dogs that can live in harmony with young children.

Both her 8-month-old pit bull and her first pit bull, which was 10 years old when it died this past winter, never showed aggression to either of her two children, she said.

“I don’t want to take away from the child and what happened to her. That’s obviously what’s important,” Waldron said. “I definitely don’t want to be defending an animal that has attacked a little child.”

Waldron, however, doesn’t want the breed to get a bad name.

“I think it’s important for people to realize this (kind of attack incident) could happen to any breed of dog.”

BASED ON FEAR

Unfortunately, many pit bulls have been used for dog fighting or are raised in homes where there’s not much exposure to other people or other dogs, which can lead to aggression, Waldron said.

She said aggression in dogs is often based on fear, and if pit bulls aren’t exposed to children, they may perceive them as a threat, just like any other any other dog might.

“It’s sad because they can be amazing family dogs, but they also have to go to amazing dog owners.”

“Pitbulls are very good dogs. It all depends on how they’re brought up,” LaBombard said. “If they’re not treated well, that’s usually where you run into problems.”

Email Felicia Krieg: fkrieg@pressrepublican.comTwitter: @FeliciaKrieg