Friday, August 3, 2012

Judge will decide fate of dog that attacked woman

SOUTH CAROLINA -- When Danielle Green met a pit bull on a darkened Johns Island street last week, the 38-year-old ended up in the hospital, and the dog was sent back home.

Although the dog mauled Green’s right forearm, the strongest law on the books meant the owner would be charged with allowing an animal at large, a misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $1,092.

After The Post and Courier reported on the attack Monday, a slew of readers called for the dog to be put down. But it’s not that simple.

State law requires the dog, a pit bull named Woody, to be confined to the house to make sure rabies is not detected, Charleston County sheriff’s Maj. Jim Brady said. The owners provided papers showing that Woody’s shots are up to date, according to the incident report.

The report described the animal as a bulldog, but Brady, the victim and another witness all said Woody is a pit bull.

A judge will decide what happens next. The dog’s owner, Garvin Ernest Lee Jr., 54, of Traywick Avenue, is scheduled to appear before Magistrate Leroy Linen at 2 p.m. on Aug. 15.

A judge is likely to order a dog to be taken into custody only if there is evidence that the owner was negligient or if there is a history of problems, Brady said. The severity of the woman’s injury isn’t likely to affect the outcome of the court hearing, although the victim could file a civil suit for medical expenses and damages, he said.

Lee told a deputy that the dog got loose from a cable that was holding him because people had been teasing it, and he said it’s likely that Green and her companion were also teasing it, according to the incident report.

Green bristled at that suggestion when The Post and Courier interviewed her Sunday while she was in the hospital. She said the dog came out of some woods, grabbed her by the right arm and started dragging her toward the yard. Her companion, Jimmy Dean, said they didn’t see the dog before it attacked.

The report said a deputy found Green lying face down in the road about 1 a.m. Friday, bleeding from her right forearm.

She said Sunday that her arm is seriously torn up and she won’t be able to return to her job at a Wadmalaw Island marina for quite a while. She said she has no insurance.

Dean said Green was released from the hospital Monday. A woman who answered her phone Tuesday hung up.

A man who answered the phone at the Lee household Tuesday said their attorney has advised them not to talk about the incident.

Several callers noted how hard it is to get anything done about nuisance animals.

Dee Morrison of Hollywood said she still is trying to find out what’s going to be done about a German Shepherd that’s been running loose terrorizing a Hollywood neighborhood. She said the dog came into her mother’s yard June 28 and bit her 11-year-old granddaughter in the leg.

The girl wasn’t seriously hurt but now is terrified of dogs, she said. Morrison said she has been calling Charleston County Animal Control and has not been able to find out what’s going on.

Brady, who is also public information officer for Animal Control, didn’t respond to a request for information on that incident.

(The Post and Courier - August 1, 2012)