The family of a 4-year-old boy who was attacked by a pit bull hopes the dog’s owners will come forward to take responsibility and to prove the dog has been vaccinated for rabies.
Paul Kiely said a couple he described as acquaintances stopped by his family’s home Monday, bringing their two dogs. He said the owners tied the leash of one of the dogs to the front porch.
Kiely said the couple had been there for about 30 minutes when his son, 4-year-old Colin, walked past the dog on his way to the porch. “Colin went to walk by him; he reached out to pet him; and this dog just pounced on him, lunged on him and bit him in the face,” Kiely said.
Kiely said he grabbed his son away from the dog. “I just put him over my shoulder — we’re a block and a half from the hospital so I just ran with him,” he said.
Colin was stabilized at the local ER, then taken by a Flight for Life ambulance to Children’s Hospital of Kenosha, where he underwent a 2½-hour surgery to repair the injuries to his face, spending two days in the hospital. Part of Colin’s lip is gone, and he will need additional plastic surgery to repair the damage. “(The surgeon) said, ‘I stitched back everything I could, I can’t stitch back what’s missing,’” Kiely said.
Contacting dog owners
While the family was at the emergency room, the couple who owns the dog left with both dogs. The woman with the dog responded to a message on social media telling Colin’s mother that the dog is vaccinated, but claimed she had moved recently and did not know her address.
The dog owners have not responded to Kenosha Police or to the Kenosha Department of Health, which is trying to get proof that the dog is vaccinated or, if it is not, place it in a 10-day bite quarantine.
Kyle Ziegler with the Department of Health said, in dog bite cases, dog owners are required to prove their dog is vaccinated, or to allow the dog to be placed in quarantine with a certified veterinarian or humane society.
“Most of the time, owners respond really well and will have their pet seen before we even see the report,” Ziegler said.
In this case, he said, it appears the owners are attempting to evade responsibility. “We’ve already stopped by the house and cannot make contact with them — that’s kind of where we are right now,” he said Thursday afternoon.
AnneMarie Achambeault, the dog’s owner, responded to the Kenosha News after the story was initially published online. She contends she did contact Ziegler and the Kenosha Police Thursday afternoon after learning they were looking for her.
She said the dog is vaccinated, but said she has been unable to find the paperwork.
The police were unable to confirm that she spoke to them Thursday evening.
Achambeault said her dog is well-behaved and well-trained and said it bit the child because the child hit the dog in the face.
“This is a lie, all of it is a lie,” she said of Kiely’s story.
What the law says
Wisconsin law also makes dog owners liable for damages resulting from a dog bite.
Ziegler said dogs that have been declared to be vicious by the city can be banned from the city or, if the owner prefers, euthanized. He said those cases are very rare.
“Every case is treated individually; it’s all on a case-by-case basis,” Ziegler said.
Kiely is upset that the dog owners have not come forward, saying it is raising the possibility his injured son will also need to go through rabies vaccinations.
He is also upset because he said the community service officer who came to the hospital was unresponsive, and because the local hospital called police to report Kiely’s adult son when the son made angry comments about the dog.
“As far as I know, they’re hiding the dog since the incident, and this is obviously a dangerous dog,” Kiely said. “I’m not anti-dog, and I’m not anti-pit bull. I’m angry about irresponsible owners.”
He called the situation “disgraceful.”
“What do I tell this child in years to come, when he asked what happened and what did you do about it,” Kiely said, “that this dog is still walking around and you are disfigured?”