CHARDON, Ohio -- The family of an infant that was seriously injured this month by two battling dogs.....
HOPES TO RETAIN OWNERSHIP OF THE PETS.
The case is one of three recent, violent dog attacks in Northeast Ohio. Since 2013, 7,100 dog attacks have been investigated by authorities in the region, state records show.
Animal wardens are aware of dogs that should be classified and treated as dangerous. But they say that, under recent changes to Ohio law, they can't do a thing until the animal attacks, and then they can only hope the injuries are not serious.
"It's unfortunate the law is like that because now we've got to wait for the next victim before we can classify that dog as dangerous or vicious," said Matt Granito, the Geauga County Dog Warden.
Nationally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4.5 million people are bitten every year in the U.S.
Dog bites account for about three dozen deaths annually in the U.S.
A day before the Chardon infant was attacked, a Shaker Heights woman was mauled and killed by a family member's dog.
The 7-month-old Chardon girl spent nearly a week in Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital and underwent multiple surgeries after she was bitten on the face and head by her family's two dogs.
She has since been released from the hospital.
The infant was with her mother inside her family's Court Street home when the two dogs became embroiled in a struggle. One dog belongs to the girl's immediate family; the other dog was being cared for by the boyfriend of the child's mother, authorities said.
The girl was injured during a battle between the two dogs, investigators say.
Since then, the dogs have been held by the Geauga County Dog Warden while city and county prosecutors decide whether any criminal charges should be brought.
On Monday, a Chardon Police spokesman said their investigation concluded about a week ago.
Granito said the 10-day quarantine has ended for both dogs. However, he is awaiting word from prosecutors before a decision is made on what will happen to the dogs. He said the family has contacted him and wants to retain custody of the dogs.
Family members said the infant is doing well since the attack. A woman representing the family declined further comment.
About 360,000 children under the age of 14 were bitten by dogs between 2010 and 2012, according to the CDC. About two-thirds of the victims under the age of four were bitten in the head and neck area.
Pit bull-type breeds are the most common attacker, records show. Critics say the dogs are inherently dangerous based on centuries of breeding and training to fight. Advocates for the breed say the dogs are safe, so long as they are properly trained and cared for.
"With pit bulls, they have very powerful jaws," Granito said. "When they bite down and clamp down, it's harder to get them to release than other breeds."
While on a walk in Avon Lake, one pit-bull mix broke free and attacked another dog. The pit bull's owner was fined $150; Daisy, a corgi-beagle mix, suffered massive injuries and later died.
"I have never in my life seen anything so vicious and violent and aggressive in my life," said Daisy's owner Johnna Lyman.
Earle Hall, the pit bull's owner, said his dog, Cyrus, is not a threat to neighbors.
"He never had any altercations before. He's not a violent dog," said Hall.