WALDOBORO, Maine — Members of a family whose pit bull mauled two children will not be charged with anything other than having an unlicensed dog because, according to Waldoboro Police Chief Bill Labombarde, the animal had never exhibited any aggression before the attack.
The pit bull, which hospitalized a 12-year-old girl and 13-year-old boy when it attacked them in late January, was euthanized a couple of weeks ago, Labombarde said Tuesday. That decision was made by the dog owner, whose children were attacked.
Labombarde said he and a detective in his department vetted the case thoroughly with the intention of charging the dog’s owner with keeping a dangerous dog if that charge was appropriate. The investigation concluded that it wasn’t.
“There was no indication prior to that attack that that dog was dangerous,” Labombarde said. “They’d had the dog in their house for a year and a half. It never bit anyone, never growled or anything. As soon as the attack happened, the first words out of [the owner’s] mouth were ‘That dog can’t come back into my house.’”
Labombarde said that technically speaking, the owner could have been charged with keeping a dangerous dog, but that wouldn’t have followed the “spirit” of the law.
“How can I say [the owner] was keeping a dangerous dog?” he said. “Even though something meets the letter of the law doesn’t mean it meets the spirit of the law.”
Police and rescue workers went to the Kaler’s Corner Road home in Waldoboro on Jan. 28 after a report of a dog attack. An adult member of the victims’ family told police he was outside when he heard screaming and had to pry the animal’s jaws loose from one of the victims and lock the dog in a room by itself. Authorities put the dog in quarantine for 10 days, as is required by state law. The dog’s owner then chose to have it euthanized.
“These people weren’t bad to their pet by any means,” Labombarde said. “The kids were horsing around and for whatever reason the dog just went into protective mode.”
Labombarde said the victims’ injuries were serious but not life-threatening and that they are healing well. He said there is no way to determine whether a family dog of any breed may attack someday.
“The best thing you can do is get as much background as you can on the dog,” he said. “When you get a pet it’s a 50-50 shot whether it’s going to be a good pet or a bad one.”