Pit bull’s fate depends on police investigation after attack on family

Posted Feb. 01, 2012, at 11:40 a.m.

WALDOBORO, Maine — A pit bull that attacked two members of its family Saturday remained in quarantine Wednesday as police worked to reconstruct the dog’s history in an attempt to determine whether it is an inherently dangerous animal.

Waldoboro Police Chief Bill Labombarde said the 10-day quarantine is required by state law after any dog attack.

Police and rescue workers went to 230 Kaler’s Corner Road in Waldoboro just after 7 p.m. Saturday to find a 12-year-old girl and 13-year-old boy suffering from injuries that Labombarde said were not life-threatening. Both victims were treated at the scene for multiple bites and then taken to Miles Memorial Hospital in Damariscotta. They have since been released.

Labombarde said the victims’ grandfather was outside when he heard screaming. He responded to find the dog’s jaw clamped on his grandson’s arm. He pried the animal’s jaws loose and locked the dog in a room by itself. Authorities later took the dog to Lincoln County Humane Society but the animal was transferred to another facility Tuesday.

Labombarde said the injuries caused by the attack were serious, but declined to provide details, citing confidentiality rules. He said the victims are “doing fine” Wednesday and recovering from their injuries.

Police and an animal control officer continue to investigate the attack. Labombarde said the outstanding issues include whether charges for keeping a dangerous dog are appropriate for the owners, as well as whether the dog will be euthanized. The latter issue could be decided by the owner, though Labombarde said it’s possible that police could use an ex parte order if they decide the dog is too dangerous to be in the community.

“It’s always best to get the owner’s cooperation, and I see no problem with that in this case,” said Labombarde. “We’re acting in the best interest of public safety.”

Labombarde said the dog, which the family has had for more than a year, is current on its vaccinations. Asked whether he has an opinion about the safety of pit bulls as family pets, he said he has seen this breed and others go both ways and that how the dog is treated during its life is a key factor.

“I’ve seen people have pit bulls and they’re the sweetest dog in the world,” said Labombarde. “I’ve seen other pit bulls that are just nasty. I’ve seen both sides of the spectrum with those animals.”

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