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Dog bite brings charges

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

THAYER -- A Thayer woman has pressed charges against a Thayer couple after her son was bitten by their dog.

Brandi Smith said her 8-year old son, Dakota Latzka, was bitten on the cheek and the throat by a Rottweiler owned by Jimmy and Penny Gibson, Nov. 11 around 10:30 a.m. The Smith's live on Carpenter Road in Thayer.

Smith said her son was taken by ambulance to Ozarks Medical Center in West Plains where he was treated in the emergency room. She said her son required six stitches to his face and six stitches to his throat.

Smith and her three children were taking a family friend to the Gibson residence where her husband already was. She said she had cautioned the children not to leave the vehicle because she knew the dog had been vicious in the past.

"Dakota got out of the car from the backseat on the left side of the car. He walked around to the front of the car and was told to get back in the car shortly before the dog attacked," Smith said.

She said her son fell backward kicking the dog off him.

"The emergency room physician told us that if the bite had been just a little bit deeper it would have gone to Dakota's jugular vein and he was really lucky the dog didn't kill him," Smith said.

Thayer Police Chief Frank Bernard said although he was not working the case, he said the dog was on a chain.

Bernard said a Thayer city ordinance adopted in 1983 says that dogs that have a history of being violent are not to run at large and must be muzzled to keep them from biting a person or another animal. The ordinance also said if the animal has a reputation of being vicious a sign must be posted saying the dog is vicious. He said he has no prior charges against the Gibson's and their Rottweiler.

A check with a local veterinarian clinic showed the dog had a rabies vaccination in June 2005 and the dog was seen in the clinic for a rabies shot Nov. 12, a day after the incident.

Brandi Smith said at the time of the dog attack there were no signs posted in the Gibson yard. Now there is No Trespassing and Beware of Dog signs, she said.

Several attempts were made to talk to the Gibson's regarding the incident.

Faye Smith, Dakota's grandmother, took her grandson and the vicious dog issue to the Thayer City Council meeting Nov. 13. "I told the council they should consider a vicious or big dog ordinance in the city," Faye Smith said. She said the mayor told her there was a law in the process.

"The police told us we could press charges and maybe get Dakota's doctor bills paid. We are going to go further than that," Brandi Smith said. "Dakota has nightmares since he was bitten. We are going to sue them for suffering, for me and for Dakota," she said,

Dakota returned to school Nov. 14. He is in the second grade at Mammoth Spring Elementary School.



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