By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK – Is Lightning, an 11-year-old rescue dog, a 70 pound brindle, pitbull and boxer mix, who allegedly attacked two other dogs, a threat to the neighborhood or a misunderstood family pet?
Andrea Mitchell, a resident of the 9800 block of Rosedale, said the dog, whom she adopted from a shelter, is a much-loved family pet, who spends most of her time inside the house, and who successfully passed a recent temperament testing.
To neighbors, however, the fence jumping canine is a threat to neighborhood safety, and some neighbors claim they are afraid to walk their dogs past the house or even let their children or grandchildren play nearby.
At the July 24 Allen Park City Council meeting, several residents emotionally voiced their concerns and frustrations.
Sharon Matle said her dog, Iggie, a 30-pound female Swedish Vallhund, was viciously attacked the afternoon of April 8 by Lightning when it slipped through the chain link gated fence separating the front and back yard.
Matle said she tried to pull Lightning off Iggie, but was unsuccessful until she sprayed the attacking dog with a chemical deterrent.
The responding police officer reported bloody lacerations and wounds to the ears, neck and eye of Iggie, who was taken to Affiliated Veterinary Emergency Hospital for treatment.
Mitchell said the attack was out of character for her dog, and she said she paid for the other dog’s veterinary bills. She was also cited for having an animal at large.
On July 3, Lightening reportedly jumped the 4-foot chain link fence and ran at Chip, Gabrielle Czarny’s White Labrador dog. The two dogs reportedly sniffed each other, then Lightning reportedly attacked Chip on the ears and face. Chip suffered no obvious injuries and was not bleeding, and a member of the Mitchell family exited the house and quickly gained control of Lightning.
The Mitchell family said they are getting bids for a higher fence, but must get city and adjourning neighbor approval.
Three weeks later, on July 24, the day of the city council meeting, Czarny filed an addendum to her original police report, stating that her dog did sustain injuries in the attack.
Animal Control Officer Howard Storey of Downriver Animal Control in Southgate is investigating, and Wyandotte Police Officer Lt. Ned Hunter, who has jurisdiction for Downriver Animal Control, is also investigating the case.
Allen Park Police Chief James Wilkewitz appealed for patience at the July 24 meeting, and said that procedure will be carefully followed, and there will not be a rush to judgment based on the emotional concerns expressed at the meeting.
Wilkewitz said a uniform Downriver Animal Control ordinance was passed in 2011, and the animal control officer was operating under its guidelines during the investigation.
He said there are procedure that guide whether a dog is classified as a dangerous or potentially dangerous animal, and said the owner of the dog in the second incident did not notice the puncture wounds on her dog until she got home, and learned today that an addendum would have to be filed to reflect the changes.
“I will meet with (Storey) to make sure that he is taking all steps to alleviate this problem, and we will see where it goes from there,” Wilkewitz said.
On July 26, Wyandotte Deputy Police Chief Archie Hamilton said in an email that he spoke to Storey, the animal control officer, who is finishing the paperwork. Storey told Hamilton that the Mitchell family may be cited with three charges: dog running at large, animal bite, and potentially dangerous dogs.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected].)