June 22, 2018
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Dog-bite victim may lose arms in surgery; dog put down

By Diana Bowley, BDN Staff

LAGRANGE, Maine — The 41-year-old Prentiss Township woman who was mauled last Friday by a dog in LaGrange was in surgery late Thursday afternoon to clean her wounds and may have to have one or both arms amputated, according to family members.

Karen Stewart’s brother, Francis Raymond Jr. of Clinton, said officials from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston had sought permission from him to remove her right arm during surgery Thursday.

Both Raymond and Stewart’s friend, Vaughn Adams, who has been by Stewart’s side since Tuesday, said Stewart remains in critical condition.

The American bulldog mix that mauled Stewart was euthanized Thursday, and its body was sent to the state to be tested for rabies, according to Bruce Hallett of Howland, the animal control officer for LaGrange.

Because the town had no record regarding the dog, Hallett said town officials met Wednesday night and agreed to seek possession of the dog. The dog’s owner, Adam Bemis, 28, was contacted, and he gave the town permission to take the dog, Hallett said. The dog was removed from the Bangor Humane Society, where it had been under quarantine, and was taken to a veterinary hospital, where it was euthanized, according to Hallett.

If the animal tests positive for rabies, then Stewart can receive the necessary treatment immediately, Hallett said.

Stewart had been visiting Adams when she was severely mauled by Bemis’ dog. He said she had been bitten more than 20 times on her head, face, arms and legs. She was airlifted to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor and later was transferred to the Boston facility.

Adams said hospital officials told him late Thursday that they intended to amputate Stewart’s right arm because of the damage. Doctors spent considerable time trying to clean the multiple infected wounds on both arms, he said. Adams said they also told him that they planned to use the tendons from her right arm to repair her left arm, but they weren’t sure her left arm could be saved, he said.

Because of the pain associated with her injuries, Stewart has been kept in a drug-induced coma since she arrived at the Boston hospital, according to Adams. He said hospital officials also do not want Stewart to see her injuries.

State police have charged Bemis with keeping a dangerous dog. He is expected to make his initial court appearance on the charge in January in Lincoln District Court. Additional charges may be pending as the investigation continues, according to Lt. Wesley Hussey of the Maine State Police. He said the case will be presented to Penobscot County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy for review.

Although there have been rumors in the community that more than one dog was involved in the mauling, Maine State Police Trooper Barry Meserve said his investigation found only one animal was involved.

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