The Shelbyville Board of Works voted Wednesday night to destroy a pit bull which attacked a 10-year-old girl.
The girl and her sister were playing with the dog owner’s daughters, her neighbors in the 100 block of Habig St., on Aug. 18 when the dog, Diesel, got out of the house.
The dog owner, James Purdue, disputed whether his daughter or the victim had opened the door, allowing Diesel out.
The police report states, “(The victim) said she was playing next door at her friends and when she opened the back door, the pit bull came out of the door and started biting her.” The victim’s statement in animal control officer Jim Lane’s report, though, states “Neighbor opened her door and the dog came out, went after the other owner’s dog. When (the victim) started running away the dog then attacked her.”
Board member David Finkel asked Lane, “Do you think how the dog got out has any bearing to the actions of the dog?”
Lane replied, “No, I don’t.”
Lane said Purdue’s initial reaction to the attack was to have Diesel put down.
“Yes, I did, because it was kind of in the air at the time,” Purdue said. “I wasn’t there, but for some reason it said in the police report that (the victim) opened the door. When I found out the facts, that’s when I changed my mind.”
“Why is it pertinent to know who opened the door?” Mayor Tom DeBaun asked.
“It’s important to me, sir, because I warned them over and over that it’s not best for them to be over there,” Purdue said. “I warned the two kids, I warned their grandma who takes care of them, she said that’s OK. Well, evidently neither one of them was outside when this happened. I made it clear that I would like them not to be over there, especially when either one of the dogs is out. Especially in the back yard. Front yard’s one thing, but knowing they go out the back, I told her, I’d rather they not be over.”
Lane said the girls were in the side yard, not the back yard, when the attack happened.
“If the dog would have went straight out back, not to the side yard, he probably wouldn’t have seen the child running,” Lane said.
Lane noted that Diesel lunged at him when Purdue’s father was bringing the dog out to Lane’s truck.
“If it wasn’t for him pulling it back, he would have got me as well. … This is probably one of the worst dog bites I’ve seen,” Lane said.
The victim received 22 stitches from the attack. Her mother, Wendy Reese, said she was thankful her daughter was able to put her arms up when Diesel attacked her.
“It could have got her neck,” Reese said.
Reese said her daughter is scared.
“She wouldn’t go outside for awhile, and even still, when they go to the bus stop, we have to stand outside and watch them get to the neighbor’s house because they walk with the neighbor to the bus stop,” Reese said. “She just recently started going out on our porch, to play on our porch. She’s scared.”
Purdue said both his dogs were inside dogs, but he does bring them outside and chain them up. His other dog was outside and chained up when Diesel got out.
“We’d only lived at this property for two weeks. I warned them next door when we moved in that I didn’t know how (Diesel) was around strangers. If they didn’t know him, they shouldn’t be around him,” Purdue said. “If one dog is on the chain, they shouldn’t be back there. I also put up signs. I had no idea they were back there.”
Purdue said when Diesel got out, he was going to his other dog to play.
“They play all the time. They were just playing, they don’t fight,” Purdue said. “… Maybe he thought she was trying to get in between them when he saw her running. That’s all I can think of.”
Purdue said Diesel was current on his shots, but Lane said Dr. Doig had no record of the shots.
Purdue’s stepfather said Purdue was in the process of moving back to the country so that he could hopefully have Diesel back.
“I’m a dog owner too,” Edward Burkett said. “I trained my dog to protect my family. That’s the main thing. I think any owner that has an animal, I think that’s their main process to have a dog to protect their family, it doesn’t matter who it is. My dog itself, I hate saying it, but anybody in a uniform, he will go against them. Mexican, it’s not the way that I’ve trained him, but it’s in his nature.
“My son has had Diesel ever since he was a pup. Diesel sleeps with my granddaughters. My son has pictures. So to euthanize a dog like that, you’re not just taking someone from the family, you’re taking them from the children. That dog is their protector. If you have a heart, surely to God you can understand that.”
Finkel noted that he’s a dog owner and a parent.
“One of the pieces of wisdom that was given to me many years ago was that a dog is a dog, and when a child is concerned, you’ve got to always remember that,” Finkel said. ” … How the door was opened is immaterial. The fact that we have a dog that is capable of doing this, we cannot allow that to continue. I understand more than anybody what an animal is to a family, but there’s a time when a line is crossed. We are here to ensure the safety of what happens in our neighborhoods, and I don’t think we can ensure that safety, we cannot rely on the children to have the judgment when and when not to open the door.”
After the board’s vote to put Diesel down, Burkett said as he left the chambers, “I’ll speak to my attorney about the first dog bite case.”
In other business, the board remanded a case back to the Shelbyville Building Commission.
Randall Dean Rush Jr. of Dean Rush Electrical had appealed the Commission’s order that Rush: re-take either the city electrician’s exam or a nationally recognized electrician’s exam before the Commission’s October meeting; be placed on probation for six months beginning in August; call his own electrical inspections with 24- to 48-hour notice; follow the city’s procedures related to obtaining permits before beginning any work; and have his inspections performed by city officials.
The decision stemmed from a May incident at Bible Holiness Church, 2911 E. Michigan Road. According to a request for appeal filed with the Board of Works by Rush’s attorney, Lee McNeely, Rush had wired temporary power for a construction job through a current transformer panel inside the building. City inspector Crystal Nanney told Rush that he needed to wire temporary power through the exterior transformer panel instead. Rush complied, but a Duke Energy lineman unaware that the exterior panel had been energized suffered a “near miss.”
“If Rush had been able to run power through the interior CT panel, as he wished, as opposed to the exterior CT panel, as ordered by Nanney, the ‘near miss’ would not have occurred,” the request for appeal states.
The request notes that the Commission never issued a finding that Rush violated a state or local regulation as required by city ordinance, and the Commission lacked the authority to discipline Rush the way they did.
“I believe the case has to be right for us to take action. I don’t believe the Building Commission has done its full duty at this point. It’s my recommendation that we remand it back to the Building Commission,” DeBaun said.
Neither McNeely nor Rush appeared at Wednesday night’s Board of Works meeting to discuss the appeal.