Tuesday, July 23, 1985

Florida: Authorities give Mike Thompson and Lynn Thompson back their vicious pit bull which tried to kill mail carrier Louise Johnson

FLORIDA -- Mike Thompson and Lynn Thompson, owners of a vicious pit bull accused of mauling a mail carrier two weeks ago, were victimized by a neighbor`s pit bull just hours before their dog returned home, according to police.

Three of the Thompsons' pet rabbits, kept outside in a metal cage, were killed Sunday night by Stroker, a 7-month-old dog owned by Anthony and Lori Schuerings, the Thompsons' next-door neighbors, police said. Two other rabbits were mutilated, but were expected to live, according to Lynn Thompson.

Stroker was taken to Broward County Animal Control on Monday and released 20 minutes later.

Meanwhile, Mike Thompson brought his pit bulls, Bam-Bam and Pebbles, home Monday amid a throng of reporters and photographers. The police hold on them had been lifted, and Thompson arrived at the animal control center about 3 p.m. to bring them home.

Thompson insists his pets did not injure Louise Johnson, 44, of Lauderhill on July 10 as she was making her rounds.

Thompson was excited to see Bam-Bam for the first time in 12 days. Hugging and kissing the dog, Thompson promised to take the muzzle off of him as soon as they arrived home.

Neither of the dogs had rabies, said William Sulser, acting director of Animal Control.

Johnson identified Bam-Bam as the dog that bit her nearly 50 times while she was inside her Jeep. She told police that Pebbles, a mixed-breed German shepherd, also jumped into the Jeep, but she did not remember that dog biting her.

The attack left her with deep gashes in her right arm and leg and bite marks on her other leg and arm. 

Johnson was hospitalized for a week and now has scars on her legs and arms. She filed a $5 million lawsuit against the Thompsons two days after the attack.

Her doctor, Howard Robinson, said she may need another skin graft on her right leg. She is not expected to return to work for some time, said Postmaster Merio Claudio.

Claudio sent a special delivery letter to the Thompsons on Monday, telling them the Post Office will not deliver mail to their home now that their pit bulls have returned.

"Until we get a written letter from them that they will absolutely confine the dog or rent a post office box, we will not deliver mail to the Thompsons," he said.

Mike Thompson said he did not see the original attack on his pet rabbits Sunday, but he caught Stroker when the dog returned to the rabbit cage Monday morning. "He tore the cage to pieces. Of my 14 rabbits, three are dead and two are recovering."

Thompson said he tried to scare the dog away by firing a handgun filled with blanks, police said. He then put the dog in his garage until a Broward Sheriff's Office deputy arrived, said Matt Weissing, sheriff's spokesman.

The Schuerings did not dispute that their dog killed the rabbits. Lori Schuerings, however, said the rabbits constantly were loose. The Schuerings were charged with breaking the county's leash law.

"My hunting dogs got the scent of them, and that's what happens," he said. "It seems we're getting a little feud started."

The Thompsons have said they think the Schuerings' mixed breed pit bull attacked Johnson.

Yeah, no. It was YOUR dog.

Schuering joined with other residents in the area in calling for Bam-Bam to be taken away permanently.

"I don't want that dog in my neighborhood. I just hope that dog don't come in my yard because I'll shoot it."

On the day of the attack on Johnson, Lynn Thompson had said she would not allow Bam-Bam back in the house with her three young children. On Monday, however, she was thrilled to have her pit bull and mixed breed German shepherd home.

"Our dogs our home, and our kids are happy. I can go to sleep tonight," she said.

(Sun Sentinel - July 23, 1985)


Sunday, July 21, 1985

Florida: Jim Massimiani blames everyone but himself for his English Mastiff's attacks

FLORIDA -- It weighs 160 pounds and stands 3 feet tall, but Jim Massimiani's English mastiff looks like it would rather sleep than fight.

The dog, named Slough, rested contentedly on a shady front porch and licked the concrete floor while his master talked about the two neighborhood dogs Slough has fought in the last two months.

"He won't attack people," said Massimiani, who lives in an unincorporated area near Pompano Beach. "All he's trying to do is protect the property. He'll attack any dog that comes on the property or looks like it's going to."

Hope Koppel, owner of a dog Slough sent to the veterinarian last May, said it may be only a matter of time until a person is injured.

"If that dog ever gets a kid, what's the guy going to say, 'I'm sorry?'" Koppel said.

Francis Sabatini of the 3800 block of Northeast 16th Terrace was knocked down but not injured Tuesday when Slough attacked her dog as she walked him past Massimiani`s house in the 1500 block of Northeast 40th Street, she said.

"It's terrible, that dog is a monster," said Sabatini. "He got my dog by the throat, and I thought he was dead."

Sabatini said her dog, a Siberian husky named Duke, was not injured. But Koppel said her dog, a 6-year-old Labrador and German shepherd mix named Spooky, needed 13 stitches to close gashes following its bout with Slough.

Koppel said she and her husband were walking Spooky on a leash on the street in front of Massimiani's house when Slough broke his clothesline tether and charged. As Slough bit Spooky in the right flank, Koppel used the soda bottle she was drinking from as a weapon, she said.

"I poured the Coke over his face and hit him with the bottle, but I couldn't get him off," Koppel said.

Koppel said her husband, Mark, started running toward home with Spooky, but Slough followed and continued biting the dog. Massimiani, who said the Koppels were walking Spooky on the swale of his yard, ran out of his house and called Slough off.

In photographs Koppel said she took of Spooky after bringing him home from the vet, several sutured gashes are visible in the middle of a shaved area on the dog's side. Except for a small, open wound, the injuries have healed.

The vet bill was $173. Massimiani said he agreed to pay it a little at a time, but quit after giving Koppel two $20 payments in June, claiming Koppel wanted too much money at once. She has filed suit in small claims court for the rest of the money plus the expense of two $10 checkup visits Spooky needed.

"It's not the payment," Koppel insisted. "What if that dog gets a kid?"

Massimiani said he doesn't mind going to court, if only to get an acceptable payment schedule.

Massimiani, who has owned the 7-year-old Mastiff since getting the $800 dog as a gift from a friend four years ago, also owns a pit bull. Both dogs are usually penned up in Massimiani's fenced-in back yard, he said.

Massimiani claims the Mastiff is "obedience trained" and insists all dogs sometimes get into fights.

"Dogs will be dogs. It's as simple as that," he said.

Well clearly he's not going to do anything. Isn't animal control going to do anything about it?

(Sun Sentinel - July 21, 1985)

Florida: City of Sunrise Urged To Ban Pit Bulls

FLORIDA -- Walter Eason's neighbor has two pit bull dogs and, therefore, Eason believes he has a problem.

"I can't even let my son go in the back yard because I'm afraid he'll put his hand through the fence and then he won`t have one," Eason said.

Eason, who lives in the 6400 block of Northwest 24th Place, appeared before the City Council last week asking city officials to do something about the dogs; get rid of them if possible.

According to a city ordinance enacted three years ago, pit bull dogs in Sunrise must be registered with police and dog owners must carry $100,000 in insurance against possible attacks.

The two pit bulls that Eason complained about are kept in a home in the 2400 block of Northwest 64th Avenue. The owner of the house is listed as C. Block, according to Chief Code Enforcement Officer Mel Silverman.

(Sun Sentinel - July 21, 1985)

Tuesday, July 16, 1985

Florida: Mail carrier recalls day when Pit Bull and German Shepherd mix jumped inside her mail truck and tried to kill her

FLORIDA -- Six days have passed since mail carrier Louise Johnson thought she would die from a raging pit bull terrier.

And, every night, she has relived the attack that "seemed like forever."

"I've been waking up fighting," she said. "I've been hurting myself because I've been fighting (the dog) off so hard. I really thought that was it for me at one point in the back of the Jeep."

Johnson was delivering mail in an unincorporated area of Broward County near Pembroke Park July 10 when a pit bull and a mixed-breed German shepherd jumped into her Jeep. Both dogs belong to Lynn Thompson and Mike Thompson of 5619 SW 38th St.

The pit bull, Bam-Bam, bit Johnson nearly 50 times, leaving her with deep gashes in her right arm and leg and bite marks on her other leg and arm. The right arm remains bandaged.

The dogs remain at Broward County Animal Control. Both are under a police hold, said Larry Atwell, assistant director of Animal Control.

In her 12 years of working for the U.S. Postal Service, Johnson said, she has been chased by many a dog. "But this was my first dog bite," she said.

On Friday, Johnson filed a $5 million lawsuit against the Thompsons. She claimed they should have restrained their pets and that she suffered permanent damage as a result of the attack.

On Monday Johnson, 44, was sitting in her hospital room at Humana Hospital South Broward, accepting visitors and talking about going back to the route she has worked for six years.

The attack started just after Johnson put mail in the Thompsons' mailbox, which is just outside a chain-link fence that surrounds the house.

"Like usual, I drove up and I saw the dogs doing like they always do, barking and jumping on the fence," Johnson said. "I always make sure the fence is closed.

"I put the mail in the box and turned to check on my next delivery. I heard this noise and both dogs were jumping into the Jeep.

"They start started attacking me. I screamed and hollered. But no one helped me."

She saw one of the neighbors standing in his yard watching the attack. She screamed and begged him for help. 

"But he said, 'That's not my dog,'" Johnson recalled.

At some point during the struggle inside the Jeep, one of the dogs knocked the gear shift, jolting the Jeep forward. The movement closed off the window on the driver's side when it came to rest against the Thompson's fence, Johnson said.

"All I could think of was, 'I've got to get out of this Jeep or else he's going to kill me,'" she said.

She tried to get Bam-Bam away from her by grabbing onto his neck chain, setting her hopes of escape on the window on the other side of the Jeep.

"I figured somebody would come by and try to help me -- throw a rock or something," she said.

No one did.

Once outside, she threw dirt in Bam-Bam's face. That didn't do the trick.

"Then I saw the fire truck, and I said, 'Thank God, I'm going to get help,'" she recalled. "But I guess they were afraid of the dog because they didn't get out of the truck."

Finally, after "what seemed like forever," Broward Sheriff`s Office Deputy Debbie Cox drove up and turned the siren on. Bam-Bam released his grip, and Cox pulled her police car between Johnson and the dog, allowing Johnson to climb in and be rushed to the hospital.

Johnson said she expects to get out of the hospital in a few days. Then she will wait for the pain to subside and the clearance from her doctor to return to work -- to the very same route she has been doing for six years.

"Even if I went to another route, there'd still be dogs," she said.

(Sun Sentinel - July 16, 1985)

Saturday, July 13, 1985

Florida: Neighbors tired of being terrorized by Leroy Felt and Tammy Felt's three pit bulls

FLORIDA -- Three pit bull terriers escaped twice from their owners' home last week and ran after several residents, forcing one man to climb on top of a car to avoid being bitten, police said.

While no one was injured, residents said the dogs appeared violent.

"I'm afraid to come out of the house," said Becky Aloi, who lives in the 8000 block of Northwest 66th Terrace, the same street where the dogs' owners live.

Aloi said the dogs saw her standing in the doorway of her house and ran up to her. She said she closed the door before the dogs reached her but "they hit the door so hard the house shook."

Tamarac residents said the dogs jumped over six- and seven-foot fences to get onto their properties.

According to Tamarac police, the dogs escaped from their owner`s home July 6 and Wednesday. Police cited the owners, Leroy Felt and Tammy Ann Felt, for violating a city ordinance requiring dogs to be kept on leashes outside of homes.

The Felts are scheduled to appear in Broward Circuit Court Aug. 27 on the ordinance violation.

Residents who live in the city`s Heathgate-Sunflower development said they`re angry police can`t restrain the animals.

Lillian Pyle said she called the police and, "When I talked to an officer he said, 'Keep your children inside.' Can you imagine that?"

Tamarac Police Lt. Roger Oprea said, "There's no law that says we can lock up the dogs (if they haven't attacked anyone). We can cite the owners for the leash violation and confine the dogs for up to five days, but that's it."

Residents complained to Stephen Mersal, president of the Heathgate-Sunflower Homeowners Association. Mersal said he would speak to city officials and try to have the matter discussed at the City Council's July 24 meeting.

(Sun Sentinel - July 13, 1985)