A Rochester Hills woman whose dog was attacked and killed by a neighbor’s dogs is speaking out against the owner after the woman’s dogs were not taken by Oakland County Animal Control.
“The neighbors are afraid to go outside,” said Rustine Janiszewski, whose Shih Tzu died May 16 after the alleged attack.
“God forbid if I was walking a kid over there. Those (dogs) could’ve gotten out and it could’ve been a kid instead of a dog.”
But the owner of the dogs said her PIT BULL AND BULLDOG were only reacting to another dog that was trespassing on her property. “She was at the fence with the dog and I asked her at least six times to get out of my yard,” said Patricia Santo, the owner of the dogs.
However, Janiszewski said Santo never asked her to get out of her yard because she wasn’t in it.
Deputies from the Oakland County Sheriff’s Rochester Hills substation took the initial report, but Animal Control officers followed up on the incident, as well.
Janiszewski said she was walking her dog along Melvin Avenue — just a block from her home — when she stopped near a home on the corner of Melvin and Clovelly Avenue.
Two dogs in the yard of the home pushed open an unlatched gate and attacked the Shih Tzu, Riley, said Janiszewski.
“They choked him so hard that his eyes popped out of his head,” said Janiszewski.
The Rochester Hills woman and her husband rushed Riley to an emergency veterinarian, but the veterinarian told them Riley’s injuries were so severe that if he recovered, he would not be comfortable, Janiszewski said.
The dog’s jaw was torn apart and he had other injuries, as well. Janiszewski said she and her husband decided to put Riley to sleep.
After the incident, Janiszewski filed a report on the incident with local deputies and Animal Control officers. She said two neighbors also gave statements.
Janiszewski said that a bungee cord has since been placed on the gate to lock it. However, Santo said the fence was latched during the incident, but her dogs forced it open.
The dogs’ owner has been issued a vicious dogs ticket from the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and a ticket for no license for either of the pit bulls.
A vicious dogs ticket is a misdemeanor that comes with a potential 93-day jail sentence on the high end, and a possible $500 fine, deputies said. The maximum fine for an unlicensed dog ticket is also $500.
Janiszewski said more should happen — the dogs should be taken from the home. She said she wonders why they weren’t.
“In the meantime, I hope nothing will happen to anyone walking by there,” said Janiszewski.
Santo said Janiszewski’s small dog was up against the fence, even after she asked Janiszewski to get the dog off her yard.
“This has been going on for years,” she added. “I asked her to please, please stay out of my yard, but she doesn’t listen.”
But Janiszewski said that’s not true; she and her dog were at the mailbox in the street.
She added she doesn’t even know the dog owner, and has never had an encounter with her.
Animal Control Supervisor Ronald Shankin said that while it is standard procedure to remove dogs that have attacked humans, the protocol for dog-on-dog attacks is different.
“What is standard procedure is to get the call, take the report, and, if anything, issue a ticket,” said Shankin.
“In this instance we don’t necessarily confiscate the dog.”
Shankin said that while Animal Control officials don’t always remove a dog from a given home, victims who are worried about a particular dog have other avenues, or civil remedies.
One includes filing a show cause hearing in district court to bring the issue in front of a judge who could ultimately decide to remove the dog, Shankin said.
In this instance, because tickets were written for both no license and vicious dogs — a local ordinance violation, Shankin said — the case will likely end up in Rochester Hills District Court.
Janiszewski said officers told her there will be a court date tied to the incident. That court date is still pending.
Rochester Hills in 2011 enacted an ordinance that required owners of dangerous dogs carry $250,000 in liability insurance that covers animal bites.
The city identifies a dangerous dog not by breed, but by whether the dog has bitten a person or injured someone’s pet.
That ordinance followed a similar incident in Rochester Hills in which two pit bulls in a local neighborhood jumped a resident’s fence and attacked an 8-month-old Pekinese puppy. The puppy died following the attack.