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Dog to be destroyed

Cary Ashby • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:07 PM

Defendant April Smith must submit proof to Norwalk Municipal Court that her male Rottweiler dog has been euthanized by Tuesday.

Judge John Ridge also sentenced Smith, 30, of 1066 Old State Road, to five years of probation for two counts of failure to confine dogs. She also was fined $200 and had a 30-day jail sentence suspended for the Dec. 3 incident when her two dogs attacked her neighbor and later charged at two sheriff's deputies.

A jury deliberated Saturday between 45 minutes and an hour before also finding Smith guilty of failure to register an English bulldog her family obtained in August. She will be sentenced on that charge after a presentence investigation.

"They did register (the bulldog) in 2008, but didn't register it in 2007," Norwalk Assistant Law Director T. Douglas Clifford said.

"Obviously, I think the jury's decision was correct," he continued. "To the best of my recollection, she was crying."

Clifford said the state's position was Smith was the "owner, harborer and keeper" of the two Rottweiler dogs that attacked Morris Van Vlerah Jr. near his back deck. Clifford noted he only had to prove Smith met one of the three aforementioned conditions. Defense attorney George Ford was unavailable for comment this morning.

Van Vlerah later went to Fisher-Titus Medical Center for treatment of puncture wounds on his hand after the attack.

When two deputies responded to the victim's home within moments of each other, the two Rottweilers charged the officers and forced them back into their respective vehicles. The deputies used Tasers on both dogs multiple times and one of the officers was ordered to shoot the one dog that didn't flee from the patio.

Huron County Deputy Dog Warden Gary Ousley, who also responded, said he had to "put down" the female dog that was shot twice because "it was near death." Ousley placed the male dog into custody; it was released Jan. 11 to Smith from the dog pound.

Smith's husband testified Friday his family got their first dog nine to 13 years ago. He clearly said he owned the male dog, not his wife, and it's the responsibility of their 14-year-old son to care for both Rottweilers, which "stay in the kennel."

"She didn't want me to get the dog," Asa Smith said.

Attorneys asked April Smith if she objected to her husband getting the dogs.

"They're my husband's dogs. I have no choice," she said. "If the dogs needed to go the vet, I'd take them."

Smith also testified she loved one of the dogs like a child, but said she didn't feed or water them and had no ownership rights. She and her husband also said they didn't know who released the dogs from their kennel that night, but it was secure after their son took care of the dogs before the family left for a wrestling match.

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