Michael Bailey said he would fight for Milo’s life in district court in the hopes of retraining and restraining his pointer/hound mix.
“I think if we had an opportunity, we could keep the community safe,” he said.
|Michael and Ginger Bailey listen to testimony at a hearing|
to decide if their dog Milo is dangerous.
“This is a tough call no matter what,” Chairman Olivier Kozlowski said. “The dog was in his own home but that dog’s home is right next door to the victim’s home.
“I think at the end of the day we’re here to ensure the public safety.”
According to testimony and reports taken by Mansfield police and animal control, Heather Bailey retrieved 6-year old Christian from the school bus on Jan. 3 and took him into her home to get his house key and a Wii video.
She said Milo had been asleep on the couch but awoke and was allowing the boy to pet him.
Suddenly, Heather heard a commotion and saw Christian bleeding. She locked Milo in the bathroom, called 911 and applied first aid.
Christian’s mother Dawn Herbert-Miller described the frantic rush to the hospital from work after she learned her son had suffered a significant wound to his face.
When she arrived, “my worst fears were realized,” she told selectmen.
Christian underwent two hours of surgery and needed hundreds of stitches to repair his cheek. He required further surgery to repair deep gashes to his ear and leg.
He has missed school, his mother said, is now deathly afraid of his own puppies. He cannot play hockey or do karate and is plagued with nightmares.
He has scars on his face and the back of his leg.
“He said to me, 'Mommy, Milo grabbed my face and wouldn’t let go,'” she recalled. “He looks in the mirror and says, 'Mommy I’m ugly.’”
Michael Bailey said he deeply regretted the incident and the trauma the boy had endured.
He admitted their 48-pound neutered dog, adopted from a shelter in September 2011, had food aggression issues but had stayed at relatives, visited a nursing home and had been boarded without incident.
Bailey said Milo had nipped Heather and bitten him one time. He has since been retrained and is undergoing evaluation.
He hinted at “some degree of provocation” by Christian and said his daughter was despondent, especially with the loss of two other family dogs.
“It is our fervent belief that euthanizing Milo is a dramatic overkill response to our combined efforts to prevent any further perpetuation. Doing so will not make any of the visible scars heal faster but only stands to deepen the unseen scars of all the victims of this tragedy,” he said.
Heather, who rode in the ambulance with Christian to the hospital, pleaded with selectmen to spare her dog’s life, saying, “We are all victims.
“He is everything, so by killing my dog you will be taking everything away from me,” she said.
Animal Control Officer Jeff Collins said Milo showed no signs of aggressive when he visited the house after a 10-day quarantine.
But, without a credible witness to the attack, he used a “bite scale,” a description of the wounds from the Millers’ attorney and photographs to conclude Milo was dangerous.
Based on the number and depth of the bites, he said the attack was excessive and the product of a dangerous dog, possibly in a “prey aggressive drive.”
He said Milo showed insufficient bite inhibition, he recommended euthanasia.”
“If this dog bites again, the bite is going to be severe. That is my concern,” Collins said.
Miller’s attorney Timothy Birmingham called the mauling “clearly an escalation of aggression.
“We just can’t put any other young children or individual in danger of being bitten by this dog,” he said.
Selectmen Kozlowski, Jess Aptowitz and Kevin Moran voted to declare Milo dangerous. This limited their options to euthanasia, permanent restraint, tracking for life and having the family carry a $100,000 insurance policy.
Under new state law, the dog could no longer be banished to another community.
They chose euthanasia.
Selectman Jess Aptowitz said he had to side with public safety and the victim.
But, he told Heather, “ This is not your fault. Do not blame yourself.
“There are no winners here,” he said.
Selectmen Doug Annino and George Dentino voted against the dangerousness ruling and to spare Milo’s life.
Dentino cited the lack of first-hand proof that the attack was unprovoked and said there could have been an interchange between Christian and Milo.
He said he preferred to have Milo sent to a trainer out of town.
“We live in a society of second chances. I think this dog deserves a second chance,” he said.
(wickedlocal - Feb 28, 2013)