Shelley, 39, acknowledged that her dog, an eight-year-old Pit Bull-Mastiff mix named Dallas, had attacked a man who had entered her apartment in Monroe County unannounced late one night “a long time ago.”
“I’ve had him eight years, this is the first time this has been like this, that anything crazy like this has happened,” said Shelley during a phone interview. “There’s never been an incident with my son or my kids’ friends who have come here.”
An incident report from the police department shows that Shelley’s dog injured another child in an unprovoked attack in May 2016.
According to the report, 15-year-old Tristen Meints had gone over to Shelley’s home to visit one of her children.
As Meints was entering the home through the front door, the dog broke free from Shelley’s grasp, charged toward him, latched on to his right ankle and started dragging him into the house.
Shelley told police that Meints hadn’t provoked the attack in any way and that she thought her dog attacked because it “was just unfamiliar” with Meints, according to the report.
After learning of the attack, Meints father, Eric, brought his son to Noyes Memorial Hospital where he received 16 stitches to close the wounds to his ankle.
“He’s got a pretty good scar on there, (but) he can’t run like he used to run,” said Eric Meints, a former resident of Mount Morris who has since moved to Missouri with his family. “He still doesn’t have speed… and then when he does try to go run, jog, he limps quite a bit.”
However, Amber Shelley insists the incident involving Tristen Meints and her dog “was not an attack.”
“That boy walked into my house without being invited in, the dog grabbed him, grabbed his pant leg,” she said. “It wasn’t anything that happened like with that girl. There were no court proceedings, nothing happened out of that.”
When asked to reconcile her version of the events with photographs provided by Eric Meints which he said show the extent of his son’s injuries, Shelley said they “must be (of) something else.”
“I could show photos of stuff and say ‘Hey, this happened to me,’” said Shelley, who seemed unhappy at the prospect of further news coverage of her dog. “…You’re an a——-e and you make up s—t and you lie… go f—k yourself, OK?”
The injuries sustained by Tristen Meints were similar to those sustained by the young girl in the May 20 attack.
The girl, whose name was redacted in documents provided by the department of health, was bitten on her left thigh and taken to Strong Hospital for the “surgical repair” of her injuries.
Apart from the physical impacts of the attack, Meints said his son is still dealing with the emotional and mental repercussions of the unprovoked attack.
“He’s very edgy around any dogs now, especially ones that are I’d say knee high - he doesn’t want anything to do with them,” said Meints. “We have several friends who have some large dogs. When we go over to their house (and) the dogs are out, he always circles around and comes down by me. He always keeps something between him and the dogs.”
Meints said he never pursued criminal charges or a civil against Shelley because he didn’t want to affect his son’s friendship with her daughter and because Shelley pledged to reimburse him for his son’s medical costs.
“That never happened,” said Meints, who has since contacted a lawyer.
Shelley disputes that version of events and claims she called Meints, who told her his son was fine and then never called her back.
Shelley made similar comments in offering to pay the young girl’s medical costs in a phone interview late last month and expressed remorse at her dog’s actions.
“I’m very shocked that it was as bad as it went – I’m still going over it in my head,” she said.
BLAMING THE VICTIM
Tuesday afternoon, Shelley again expressed remorse, but then seemed to place blame at the feet of the young girl who was attacked and her father, who Shelley said should have been keeping a better eye on his daughter.
“Somebody wants to go through my yard that didn’t belong back there, she didn’t belong back there, the father wasn’t watching his kid, he should have known where she was,” Shelley said. “He should have been watching his kid, this wouldn’t have happened.”
Shelley has shared several photos and memes critical of labeling pit bulls and other breeds as inherently violent on her Facebook page.
One photo, a public service announcement from the US Postal Service, notified dog owners they could be liable for medical costs should their pet attack a postal worker.
In the comments section of the photo, which featured a picture of a German Shepard, Shelley wrote “Picking on German Shepards [sic].”
Another image shared by Shelley features a quote attributed to Cesar Millan, a dog behaviorist known for his television series, “Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan.”
“In the ‘70s, they blamed the Dobermans. In the ’80s, they blamed German Shepards. In the ‘90s, they blamed Rotweilers. Now they blame the Pit bull,” reads the quote. “When will they blame the humans?”
Livingston County property tax records show the residence at 80 Stanley St. in Mount Morris is owned by Scott Browne. Browne is also named in department of health documents detailing the investigation of the 2017 dog attack on the young girl.
When reached to comment on the attack on the young girl last month, Browne declined to comment.
“I’m not talking to anybody,” he said.
Eric Meints said after his son was attacked, he filed a dangerous dog action with the county’s department of health, though he wasn’t able to provide documentation.
The family of the young girl who was attacked last month also filed a dangerous dog complaint, according to documents provided by the health department.
“Typically that’s how it works and they’re the ones who make the determination on that,” said Grove.
Usually, the department of health’s investigations into dog attacks are “pretty routine,” said Grove.
“Usually it’s a matter of making sure the animal has that 10-day confinement for rabies – that’s the protocol,” he said.
Because both attacks occurred in Mount Morris, consideration of the complaints would fall to James LaPiana or Brandon Zingaro, both of whom serve as village justices.
Neither could be reached for comment Tuesday, but Shelley said she’d appeared in court regarding the most recent attack on the girl.
“I did have to go to court for that,” she said. “I didn’t get found to have a dangerous dog.”
Shelley euthanized her dog June 2.
(The Livingston County News - June 15, 2017)