Saturday, August 5, 2017

Maine: Sam Miele's face was ripped off by her friend Carrie Gammon's Rhodesian Ridgeback. Gammon and her attorney blame Sam and refuse to euthanize the dog

MAINE -- A Western Maine woman says she's still waiting for justice nearly a year-and-a-half after a dog ripped off part of her face.

"I still don't like having my picture taken at all," said Adriane Miele, who goes by "Sam."

Miele doesn't recognize her own reflection anymore.

"It's been really hard financially, emotionally to accept that this is what I'm going to look like for the rest of my life," she said.

Her life, and her face, forever changed in March of 2016.

Miele said she had just arrived at a Rumford home to have a drink with friends, but before she could reach for the door, a Rhodesian Ridgeback named Ralph came barging out.

"Grabbed me by my face and shook," said Miele. "That's when he took the whole piece of my face."

Photos taken hours after the attack are so graphic, CBS 13 can't show them.

Miele was hospitalized for seven days and underwent two surgeries, one to replace her lower lip, the other a skin graft procedure, in which doctors took tissue from her chest to use on her cheek.

"I have a lot of nightmares still," she said.

The dog's owner, Carrie Ann Gammon, is charged with keeping a dangerous dog, which is a civil offense. She wouldn't talk to CBS 13 about the attack.

Her dog's fate will ultimately be decided in court.


Gammon's attorney, Lenny Sharon, tells CBS 13 in a statement: "Ralph is the entire issue as we move closer to trial. We have retained the services of one of the best dog 'whisperers' who has done a series of tests with Ralph and concluded that he is not a dangerous animal under the statute."

Sharon also said, "On the night in question, Carrie texted (Miele) and said in essence, 'Knock before you enter, so that I have time to get Ralph acclimated.' Instead, she brought a 12 pack of beer. She slammed open the door and reached low to retrieve the beer which she had brought with her. Ralph was resting on the other side of the room from the woman who got bit. The banging of the door accompanied by her bending down startled Ralph. We are not interested in the fine but we will not agree to the dog being put to sleep by the State."

"I think the dog should be euthanized," said Miele.

But more than a year later, she said, nothing has changed.

"Why has this dog been able to live at home being as dangerous as it is, and not been quarantined or not been put in a shelter until this trial comes, until this trial is over?" asked Miele.

The animal control officer for the town of Rumford declined to answer that question, instead referring the CBS 13 I-Team to the District Attorney's Office. Calls to prosecutors weren't immediately returned.

Liam Hughes, the director for the state animal welfare program, can't speak to this dog specifically.

"If the owners can safely contain them in their home and they're not gonna pose a risk to public safety, they could stay at the home," said Hughes. "But that's for the animal control officer and local law enforcement to monitor the situation and make sure the animal's not going to be a threat."

Hughes said locking up an animal can sometimes lead to worse behavior.

Rumford Police Chief, Stacy Carter, wouldn't go-on camera, but told CBS 13 there's a muzzle order in place to protect the public, meaning the dog has to be muzzled anytime it's outside the four walls of its home. He said there have been no complaints about the dog being violent since that order took effect.

"It's a matter of time," said Miele. "It's like a time bomb."

Miele said she saw the dog out without a muzzle and reported it to the town in a witness statement, but nothing was done. Carter confirmed the complaint was made, but the animal control officer found no wrongdoing when she followed up.

"I'm afraid that it's gonna happen again before this actually does to go court and they make a decision about this dog," Miele said.

She said court proceedings have been postponed half a dozen times.

"It's way too slow," Miele said. "I mean, if I had done what this dog did to me, to him, I would already be in jail. I would already have been to court. That's how I feel."

Miele said resolution in court will give her some closure, though it can't heal the pain she endures daily or pay off the mountain of debt she's facing from medical bills and being out of work almost a year.

"It's rough and I wouldn't want someone else to go through this, ever," she said.

The case is scheduled for a jury trial in September.

(WGME - August 2, 2017)

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