Pit bulls released home after killing pet, sending woman to emergency room

NORTHFIELD TWP (WXYZ) - Ellen Mohan had made the walk through her Northfield Twp. neighborhood hundreds of times before and, along with her three-year-old dog Zoey last month, she and her boyfriend were expecting this summer stroll would be like all the others. They were wrong.

"It happened in just the blink of an eye," Mohan said.

What happened next has been replayed in her mind over and over again, when two neighborhood pit bulls approached her and her dog, and suddenly attacked.

"I can’t even put it into words," she said. "I mean, it is your absolute worst nightmare. They tore my dog up in front of me.  There was blood everywhere. Her intestines were coming out, I mean it was horrifying."

With her dog bleeding heavily, Ellen and her boyfriend tried to rescue her from the two dogs savagely attacking it.

"And that’s how I got my hands all messed up by the pit bulls biting me, and trying to save my own dog," Mohan said. "There’s blood all over the place, I don’t know if it’s me, if it’s my dog, and I just pull her up into my arms, along with my boyfriend, and we just start running down the street."

After 90 minutes at animal hospital, doctors couldn’t save Zoey, who was euthanized later that night. Ellen was rushed to U of M’s emergency room. he was hospitalized for five days.

Mohan says doctors found 50 lacerations on her hands. Police told her that the pit bulls would be quarantined at the Huron Valley Humane Society, pending a judge’s ruling.

But days later, the dogs were released home.

"We were surprised that the dogs were released as quickly as they were," said Northfield Twp. Police Chief William Wagner.

It was his officer who impounded the dogs, but also made what Ellen says was a dangerous mistake: he checked a box on an intake form that allowed for the dogs to be transferred to a home quarantine.

"They killed one dog, they put a woman in a hospital for a week. Why would an officer give these dogs even a chance to return back to the same neighborhood where this happened?" asked Channel 7's Ross Jones.

"It’s difficult for me to answer that because it’s all part of the report," Wagner said. "I’m not sure it’s, well I’m positive it’s not as clear as that and it certainly wasn’t the officer’s intention that night."

"Are you satisfied that this was handled in the best way?" Jones asked.

"No, no, we had different expectations of how this would be handled," Wagner said.

Chief Wagner believes the decision to release the dog was made by the Huron Valley Humane Society, but officials there say just followed police orders.  Wagner  would not say if his officer made an error, but said Ellen’s anxiety today is well placed.

"Would you be comfortable if these dogs were next door to you?"Jones asked.

"I probably wouldn’t be comfortable with that," Wagner responded.

Ellen says she’s talked to other neighbors who say before last months’ attack, the dogs had mauled them too.  Today, she and her boyfriend say they won’t walk the street anymore, not while the dogs are still there.

The police department, she says, made a terrible decision.

"I don’t think it’s a risk worth taking," Mohan said. "I know the humane society is overcrowded, I am a huge animal lover. I even love pit bulls. I shouldn’t be scared to walk down my street, and I am.  Because they’re still there."

Late today, Chief Wagner said his office secured a court order to have the dogs removed from the neighborhood. Mohan plans to seek reimbursement for lost wages and vet bills.

Attempts to reach the owners of the dogs, who could face charges from the attack, were unsuccessful.


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