A Livonia man died after he was attacked by two large dogs while he was out for an evening run Wednesday evening, July 23, police say.
Craig Sytsma, 46, was working at Eltro Services in Oxford when he decided to go for a run just before 5:30 p.m., said Metamora Township Police Chief David Mallett.
Mallett said Sytsma began his run heading northbound on Thomas Road from M-24. He said about two miles in, just south of Brauer Road, a witness reported seeing Sytsma running and said the men waved at each other as the man was mowing his lawn. It was as the man made another pass with his mower that Mallett said the witness saw something was wrong.
“He comes back around and this time he sees the gentleman being attacked by a couple of animals,” Mallett said. “He decides to go down and help him, I don’t know how far he got to them before he decided, ‘I need something else,’ so he went back to his place and got a gun and came back down. He tried to protect Mr. Sytsma by shooting at the animals. He did strike an animal, after he did that, the dogs did vacate and take off.”
The original call to police came in as a man was shot and another man had a gun, Mallett said. It wasn’t until Metamora Township officer Sean Leathers arrived that he realized it wasn’t a shooting, but an animal attack. Mallett said Leathers kept the animals at bay while first responders worked to try and save Sytsma.
Mallett said the dogs responsible for the attack are two 3-year-old Cane Corsos. A Cane Corso is described by the American Kennel Club as a “mastiff type” dog that ranges in size from 23 1/2 to 27 1/2 inches tall at the shoulder.
The dogs are held in quarantine at the Lapeer County Animal Control. Mallett said the Lapeer County prosecutor has an interest in the case and will petition the court to determine the fate of these animals.
“Obviously, the animal owners have a certain right to contest something that the prosecutor may want to happen to them, but if that’s the case, there would be a hearing to determine the fate of the animals,” Mallett said. “And if the animals are deemed to be destroyed then they would be euthanized and handled appropriately.”
Mallett said there was a report of a dog bite in May 2012 where the animal did come back to the same address. Another report was taken in November 2013 after a man between 60 and 70 years old was bitten and taken to the hospital. Mallett said in both cases the animals came back to the same address, but he was unsure if it was the same dogs.
“Most of the time, dogs are very good animals to have, they are very safe, but there is always that case where this one dog, I don’t know if it was the color of something the guy was wearing, who knows what, but something provoked those dogs to go after that gentleman that day. Maybe they go after people that run, I don’t know what provoked them, but it cost a man his life,” Mallett said.
Geoffrey Petz, 33, of Metamora, said he has had dealings with dogs in the area on several occasions. His late grandmother’s house is next door to the home where the dogs allegedly live and he said he has seen them loose before.
“They get loose kind of regularly,” Petz said. “I’ve had interactions where I was walking out of my grandma’s pole barn and there was a dog standing there with its hair standing up, growling at you. When you get that feeling, you can see it in an animal if it’s scared or aggressive and you just back right back into the door.”
Petz comes to the house on Thomas Road to cut hay and maintain the grass. Petz said he was there when one of the neighbors was bitten on the leg before and was worried that was who was attacked this time.
“I’ve only had interactions with the dogs one at a time, thank God. If they were in a pack of two or three, I don’t know what would happen.” Petz said. “It’s a shame this happens to somebody out just trying to keep in good shape and stay healthy.”