Family’s pit bulls ordered destroyed |

Family’s pit bulls ordered destroyed

Dogs attacked, injured jogger July 5

Collin Smith

— Municipal Court Judge Kevin Peck ordered the city to destroy a local family’s two pit bulls after he found the animals violated a city ordinance on vicious animals.

According to a Craig Police Department report, the pit bulls attacked local resident David Grabowski on July 5 as he was jogging near Seventh and Russell streets.

Officials euthanized the dogs by injection Wednesday.

Photo evidence included in court records showed Grabowski had a bite mark about 7 inches wide on one of his upper thighs and a small, shallow hole on his lower leg.

Grabowski told police officials that he had to jump over a chain link fence to get away when one of the dogs bit his thigh and hung there until he made it to safety.

City Attorney Kenny Wohl said the case was “pretty clear cut.”

The dogs’ owner, Sandra Bernhardt, 37, also was ordered to pay $3,000 restitution to Grabowski, as well as city costs to keep and destroy the animals, which had been in holding since the incident occurred July 5.

The city does not have an estimate on how much its costs will be.

There will be a restitution review hearing Dec. 9 to see whether Grabowski’s medical costs exceed the initial restitution.

Peck ordered $90 in court costs to Bernhardt be suspended so she can pay restitution.

Bernhardt said the court’s decision has been difficult for her family to accept, particularly her two sons.

“My kids are very upset today,” she said. “They’ve done nothing but cry. I’ve been crying. Part of our family has been yanked away.”

Bernhardt added she was taken by surprise during court proceedings because she thought she was there for a conference to see whether the dogs could be returned home pending a formal hearing.

She said she was shocked when it was decided her dogs would be destroyed.

“I didn’t know this was going to be a guilty or not guilty hearing,” she said. “If I had known and had time, we could have done a petition. Lots of people know my dogs and know how great they are.

“But it was just cut and dry. They’re going to be put down.”

Bernhardt said she and her family will not try to see the dogs before they’re destroyed, but they do plan to save the dogs’ collars and leashes and build a memorial.

“It’d be too hard, too hard on the kids, to go out there,” she said.

She still does not understand why they will be put down after their first offense.

“I think it’s because they’re pit bulls,” Bernhardt said. “People need to know, even though they’re pit bulls, it doesn’t mean they’re mean. Even little poodles can be mean. It’s all in how they raise them.”

However, it’s hard for Becky Grabowski, the wife of the man attacked, to accept that the two pit bulls could be trusted to never attack another person.

“This was an unprovoked attack,” she said. “As crazy as it sounds, I’m glad it was David, because he’s big enough to get away and get over the fence. If that had been a child or an elderly person, I don’t think they would have been able to do that.”

Since the attack, Dave’s bites have become infected with what doctor’s think is an antibiotic-resistant staph infection, Becky said. He’s also unable to sit down because of the location of his wounds and is on pain medication.

Becky added that she and Dave feel bad for Bernhardt’s sons, who also owned the dogs and were present at the municipal court hearing.

“I’m a pet lover, and I’ve loved dogs my whole life,” she said. “But if my dogs chased after a jogger like that, they’d be dead. You wouldn’t have to call animal control. I’d put them down myself.”

The incident is an example of why city animal control officers need to do more to enforce pet laws, such as leash requirements and penalties for loose animals, Becky said.

“Enough is enough,” she said. “I have a 6-year-old who’s afraid to leave the house. I see dogs running loose all the time, and then I see joggers and women walking with their babies. Animal control has a tough job, and they do what they can with limited funding, but enough is enough.”

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