Authorities contend with rash of dog attacks

On Tuesday, Oxford police had to contend with a pit bull that broke loose from a residence and began charging at people. Butler County Deputy Dog Warden Kurt Merbs recounted a gory scene.

“Oxford police couldn’t get a hold of their dog warden so they called me,” Merbs said. “The officer said that the pit bull lunged at him so he shot it in the face. When I got there the dog was chained to the fence and the owner had arrived. We had no reason to take it, and the owner was cited for violation and was told to take the dog to the vet.”

Merbs explained that the dog is recovering from his injuries – two bullets didn’t exit the head – but the animal has become an Internet star via a Justice for Cesar Facebook group and a YouCaring fundraiser page.

According to the Oxford police report, the incident began shortly after 6 p.m. Tuesday when police responded to reports of an aggressive dog in the area of Vine and Elm Street. Officer Derrick Carlson located the dog in the 400 block of North Beech, where he was met by two men holding shovels. They told the officer they had just fended off a dog who had charged at them and seemed “very aggressive.”

The officer found and followed the dog, which ran across the street charging toward a male carrying groceries. The male dropped the groceries and fell to the ground. Carlson got out of his cruiser with his weapon drawn. The dog would not obey his commands, the report said.

In the backyard of a home in the 300 block of Beech Street, the officer continued to try to calm the dog, but the dog inched toward him, growling.

“He made it clear he was not going to give up his ground, and I could not let him escape after showing multiple signs of unprovoked aggression toward pedestrians in the area,” Carlson wrote in the report. By this time, a second officer, Matt Hardin, was also on the scene.

Carlson fired one round at the dog, striking him on the right side of his head/snout area. The owner of the dog, Troy Anderson of Oxford, arrived and was able to get the animal under control.

“Anderson stated that the dog got out of his house about four hours prior and had been trying to locate it. Anderson stated the he had the pit bull since he was very small and is now about two years old. Anderson stated that pit bull had never shown any signs of aggression toward him or any of his children living with the dog,” the police report states.

Anderson, who could not be reached for comment Thursday, was issued a citation for a dog running at large. Oxford police Sgt. Jon Varley said he could not comment on the case, as he had not seen the report.

“When I arrived on the scene the dog was moving around gurgling from the blood running down his throat. I understand that now he’s okay and just has a nasty scar running from his nostril to the back of his head,” Merbs said. “People have really been blowing up Facebook offering assistance for this dog.”

Two attacks in Hamilton resulted in serious injuries to residents.

On July 2, a 21-year-old woman was going for a walk in the Fort Hamilton Hospital area when she was attacked by a boxer mix, according to Merbs. The woman suffered puncture wounds to her legs.

“It was reported that it was a pit bull, but it was definitely a boxer with some kind of mix,” he said. “The dog’s owner was cited for failure to confine a dangerous dog.”

One of the residents who lives in the neighborhood where the dog attacked occurred, said there are two parks close to where the dog often roams loose, and he worries about the safety of the kids in the area.

Merbs said the failure to confine a dangerous dog citation means that the owner must within 30 days have the dog neutered (since it’s a male), microchipped, register the dog with the county as a dangerous breed at a cost of $50 and keep it under lock and key – such as in a kennel.

“They also have to place ‘Beware of Dog’ signs up, and if all of the conditions aren’t met within 30 days, we will go out again and cite them,” Merbs said. “We can take the dogs, but we usually don’t unless they have bitten someone again.”

On July 1, a 9-year-old girl was attacked by a 2-year-old Staffordshire Terrier in West Hamilton. The dog attacked the girl’s face – biting off part of her lip and nose. The girl was transported to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center and is recovering from her injuries.

As it turns out, the incident proved to be less about an aggressive dog, but more about children becoming a little too playful with a chained up animal.

“There were kids playing in a backyard, and they had been squirting the dog in the face with water,” Merbs said. “The dog had finally had enough, and unfortunately when the girl got too close to it, he lunged at her and bit her in the face.”

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is getting involved with the local case involving the chained-up dog. The organization wants owners to take responsibility for their pets and not leave them tethered to a chain without proper care.

“Chained dogs are forced to endure the elements, attacks by other animals and cruel people, and crippling loneliness— often without adequate food or shelter,” according to PETA Senior Director Colleen O’Brien.

O’Brien explained that chained-up dogs “often go insane from frustration and lack of exercise and socialization. PETA — whose motto reads, in part, that ‘animals are not ours to abuse in any way’ — encourages guardians to make dogs part of the family by allowing them to live indoors.”

The uptick in dog biting incidents isn’t a surprise to Merbs, who feels that this time of year has something to do with it.

“I can definitely say that the number of dog attacks have increased over the past three years, especially in the summer,” he said. “They’ve gone up every year especially in the summer – 90 percent more in the warm weather. Dogs are more agitated and the female heat cycle are some of the reasons.”

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