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Dog mauling charges

Wednesday, November 17, 2010 - 11:30am

A 2-year-old is dead, and a grandfather may be charged. But when a dog fatally attacks someone, what kind of charges can they face?

There have been several dog attacks in East Texas in the last couple of years, and most involved pit bulls.
But do the dogs pay the price for owner’s irresponsibility?

The job of the Rusk County Grand Jury is not going to be an easy one.

The death of 2-year-old Kaden Muckleroy involves at least two guilty parties. One is obvious. A pit bull tied to a tree in his grandfather’s yard mauled the toddler to death November 10th. It has been euthanized.

“The lady goes on TV and says that she has raised these animals like her own children,” says Longview attorney Kelly Heitkamp. “This is not a dog that sleeps in the bed every night with the children. This is not a dog that’s being hand fed. This is an animal chained to a tree. And if that doesn’t change an animal’s disposition, I don’t know what will.”

Pit bulls are responsible for anywhere from 47-62% of the fatal dog attacks in this country in the last 5 years.
But the grand jury has to decide on charges against the grandfather, Kelvin, who owned the dog along with over 30 others.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think much will happen,” Heitkamp said. “I think this is going to be a classic case of where the animals pay the price for the decisions made by humans. And this child has lost his life.”

Half of the animals confiscated were pit bull breeds and many were destroyed.

The family claims they were just accumulated over the years. Others suspect something else…

“You certainly don’t have 31 pets,” she scoffed. “It means either you’re probably not right in the head, or you’re breeding for profit, or you’re running a dog fighting ring. We’re a community. We have to participate together to help protect one another. We have this situation where somebody must have seen something. Someone must have heard something. You have 31 dogs and the neighbors don’t complain?”

The Rusk County Grand Jury will meet after the first of the year to look at charges based on the Sheriff’s investigation.

But absent a civil suit, the charges will likely involve variations on negligence or child endangerment.

“There’s clearly an issue out there, clearly an issue, and I certainly hope that CPS is on the scene investigating this. Because this is not simply a dog problem,” Heitkamp said. “This is a people problem. When you have children in this environment, it is the responsibility of the parents to see that that child is protected. And that did not happen here.”


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