CORINNA — The adult male pit bull dog that on Saturday attacked and killed 7-year-old Hunter Bragg has been euthanized, the Penobscot County sheriff said at a news conference Monday afternoon in Bangor.
Hunter was a student at Down East Community School in Bangor.
Earlier Monday, the Corinna town manager said the dog was not registered with the town and that Merchant has eight dogs on the property. All are registered except for the dog involved in the attack, Town Manager Serena Bemis-Goodall said Monday.
Bemis-Goodall said, “My understanding is that (Merchant) took the dog in for someone else just within the last couple of months. It was not registered, otherwise we would have known about it.”
She said the dog was a PIT BULL, which is a catch phrase for a number of different types of terriers, and not a specific breed.
Stacey Merchant, Gary Merchant’s wife and a relative of Hunter Bragg, posted a photo of the 7-year-old boy on her page Sunday and wrote: “My sweet little Hunter there is nothing we can say right now that will make this alright.” She wrote that the guilt that was building up inside her and her husband was “heart wrenching” and “I don’t know how I will ever recover from this. You were so young to young to be taken from us.”
Patrick Faucher, president of the board of directors for the Maine Animal Control Association, said the organization does not keep statistics on the number of reported dog bites state-wide. “I’m not familiar with too many this year,” said Faucher, who could not recall a recent fatality in the state from a dog and said it has “probably been years” since one was reported. Without a complete picture of what unfolded at the Corinna home Saturday, Faucher said it is hard to evaluate the situation.
The attack is not related to a 2014 group of pit bulls in Corinna that attacked and injured another dog on Nokomis Road, she said. But the town’s animal control officer, Charles Gould, was called to the Moody’s Mills Road property last year for a noise complaint related to the dogs, Bemis-Goodall said.
In March 2015, Gould found four dogs at the property that were not registered, but Bemis-Goodall said that Merchant “did exactly what animal control asked him to do” and registered the animals.
He has seven registered dogs on the property in addition to the unregistered dog involved in the attack, she said. She said she was not sure who the dog belonged to or why they had asked Merchant to care for it.
At the Moody’s Mills Road home where the boy was killed, a man briefly stepped outside at about 11:15 a.m. Monday and asked reporters to give the family and their neighbors space.
“We’re all dealing with this as we have to,” said the man, who declined to give his name. “It’s family. We’re all grieving.”
Morton said in a news release late Saturday night that the attack occurred around 5:15 p.m. Saturday at the home on Moody’s Mills Road. When deputies arrived, the 7-year-old boy was already dead, Morton said. No one else was injured in the attack, he said. The boy who was killed was apparently a visitor to the home and did not live there.
Morton said Saturday the situation is complex, and that the boy’s identity and the dog’s breed were not being released until the sheriff’s office collected more information. The dog was impounded, he said.
Complaints about aggressive or loud dogs are not unusual in town, according to Bemis-Goodall, but she said the severity of the recent attack has brought the issue to the forefront.
“No matter what town you live in, people should be shaken up,” she said. “A 7-year-old child lost his life. Everyone should be upset over this.”
Joshua Eldgridge, who grew up across the road from the ranch home where dogs could be heard barking in a penned area in the back Monday, said he was in Corinna helping his mother on Saturday when the quiet rural road turned into a parade of ambulances and police cruisers. Eldridge said he has seen a pit bull-type dog outside and that the home has a number of dogs.
“They are barking a lot and they looked stressed,” he said. “It’s just tragic. This stuff doesn’t happen. I feel that it’s a horrific story. I heard there was possibly another child that witnessed it, that’s what’s getting at me a little bit — that little girl is possibly destroyed for the rest of her life witnessing it.”
In a March 2015 video posted to Merchant’s Facebook page, a black dog identified as a pit bull named Shadow can be seen near a dog gate and several barking puppies. Merchant wrote that the dog got sick and then died from a tumor.
Earlier Monday morning, a woman stuck her head out of a battered storm door at the scene of the attack and screamed at a reporter and photographer. Several television stations and other news media had gathered by late morning at the 207 Moody’s Mills Road home, where the dooryard and grounds were a clutter of vehicles tires and toys.
Dogs could be heard barking in a penned area behind the house, which is a mile down the gravel road from busy Route 7 connecting Newport and Dexter.
Raymond Freve, interim superintendent of Regional School Unit 19, which includes the towns of Corinna, Dixmont, Etna, Hartland, Newport, Palmyra, Plymouth and St. Albans, told the Press Herald Sunday evening that the victim did not attend classes in his district.
“He was there visiting a student from our district (when the dog attacked him),” Freve said.
The student being visited by the boy who was attacked attends Corinna Elementary School, Freve said. RSU 19 was to have grief counselors available Monday at the school for any student or staff member who might need to talk to someone.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the U.S. About one in five people becomes infected, placing the victim at risk for illness or even death. Children are most at risk for dog bites. Among children, the rate of dog-bite-related injuries is highest among those 5 to 9 years old, the CDC says. More than half of dog bite injuries occur at home and involve dogs that are familiar to family members.
Penobscot County police said Sunday they were in the midst of a complex investigation into the death of a young boy attacked by a dog in Corinna and would not release additional details until Monday.
Sheriff Troy J. Morton said in a news release that the attack occurred around 5:15 p.m. Saturday at a home on Moody’s Mills Road. When deputies arrived, the 7-year-old boy was already dead, Morton said. No one else was injured in the attack, he said.
Morton said the boy’s identity and the dog’s breed are not being released until the sheriff’s office has collected more information. The dog has been impounded, he said.
“I can appreciate the interest in this incident; however, it is a complex incident and we believe in providing accurate information,” Morton said Sunday evening in an emailed response to questions.
Raymond Freve, interim superintendent of Regional School Unit 19, which includes the towns of Corinna, Dixmont, Etna, Hartland, Newport, Palmyra, Plymouth and St. Albans, said Sunday evening that the victim did not attend classes in his district.
“He was there visiting a student from our district (when the dog attacked him),” Freve said. READ MORE HERE....