On the evening of May 8, a neighbor’s pit-bull traumatized one Midland 6-year-old girl. While playing with a next-door playmate, she was attacked by the neighbor’s dog. The girl was rushed to Midland Memorial Hospital, had surgery a few hours later and is expected to make a full physical recovery. But such an attack can leave indelible scars.
“I do think that it’s something that she’s going to have to deal with for the rest of her life,” said Chris Modisett, Kyrie Modisett’s father. “She’ll at least think about it whenever she sees a dog. I think she’ll eventually come to terms with it.”
The family recently moved to the neighborhood near Midland Country Club, and Kyrie was outside playing with her new friend, also 6. The two girls decided to visit the PIT BULL TERRIER owned by the family of Kyrie’s friend. The dog, which had cancer, hobbled on three legs.
The dog bounded for Kyrie -- most likely because she is an unfamiliar face -- and her friend attempted to pull away the animal. Kyrie was able to get away -- though not before receiving a serious wound to her arm -- while her friend went for help, Modisett said.
A plastic surgeon specialist, Dr. Kevin Cook, was in town performing another surgery when Kyrie was brought in to MMH. As soon as Cook exited the first surgery, he immediately rolled up his sleeves and got to work on Kyrie, Modisett said.
“For the first couple of days after the attack, Kyrie wouldn’t even talk to us,” he said. “We just told her, ‘This is how it is. You are going through mental trauma. You’ve got injuries on your arms and on your legs and on your face. But you also have injuries that you can’t see.”
The dog, a pet that the neighbor family had had since it was a puppy, never showed such signs of aggression, Modisett said. The family willfully put the dog down five days later, he said.
Dog attacks as traumatic and serious as Kyrie’s seldom occur within the city limits, according to Midland Animal Services Director Paul O’Neill.
“Dog bites happen all the time; attacks like that are different,” he said. “We have pretty strict dangerous-dog laws here. I mean, if we do get an attack like that, we file a dangerous-dog petition pretty quickly, and usually the animal is surrendered to us.”
When Animal Services or a resident files a dangerous-dog petition, usually in response to a violent incident, the dog’s owner is faced with turning the animal over to Animal Services for euthanization. If an owner protests the filing, the matter can be taken before a municipal judge, who can either force the animal to be turned over or can mandate certain requirements, O’Neill said.
Since June 2007, 27 dangerous-dog petitions have been filed. Of these cases, 25 dogs were euthanized.
“That’s why filing a petition is kind of a serious deal, because, once we file a dangerous-dog petition, that’s the only way out of it,” O’Neill said. “We’re either going to court and the judge is going to decide the fate of your dog, or the people just release it because they know that their dog did do it and they can’t win.”
Last week’s incident caused no such animosity.
“You can tell that the dog’s owners genuinely did not want this to happen,” Modisett said. “I mean, this was their puppy. Everybody lost something.”