VIDEO - Dog ordered to be released

Cary Ashby • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:05 PM

A Rottweiler dog that attacked an Old State Road man was ordered to be released from custody Friday.

The owner, April Smith, 30, of 1066 Old State Road, could have her dog back upon full payment of the proper fees to the Huron County dog warden.

Her neighbors weren't pleased with Norwalk Municipal Judge John Ridge's ruling.

There is one house between Morris Van Vlerah and Smith on the south side.

"All I can say is I'm not happy with the decision (Friday)," Vlerah said.

Smith's neighbor to the north, Steve Rospert, spent about $6,000 to put up a fence after Smith's two Rottweilers killed his two goats in May 2006. Like Huron County Deputy Dog Warden Gary Ousley, Rospert hoped the dog would remain at the pound.

"I am concerned about their (the Smiths') children in the house with a vicious dog. They have three boys," Rospert said.

"All the neighbors feel unsafe with the dogs around. It's a safety issue all the way around," Rospert added.

Rospert's wife, Lori, agreed.

"We're all living in fear out here," she said before the hearing. "It's changed our lifestyle out here for the last year and a half."

Smith faces a Jan. 25 trial on two charges of failure to confine dogs. She also was charged with one count each of no dog license and failure to display a dog tag.

The defendant turned down a plea deal offered by Norwalk Law Director Stuart O'Hara on Dec. 18. The prosecutor offered Smith a 60-day suspended jail term on the condition she have the remaining dog destroyed.

Smith also needed to pay an undetermined amount of restitution and been prohibited from owning any animals or living in a home with animals. She ignored multiple requests to be interviewed after Friday's hearing.

The dog had been held at the pound since the Dec. 3 incident when it and another Rottweiler attacked Smith's neighbor. They also charged at two sheriff's deputies who attempted to use Tasers on them.

Detective Sgt. Dane Howard was ordered to kill one dog. Earlier, the pair of dogs attacked Smith's neighbor and tried to get into his patio after he went inside.

After the Bronson Township attack, the victim was treated at Fisher-Titus Medical Center for puncture wounds on his hand.

Dog Warden Melvin Eaton, about Dec. 22, said the "unpredictable" dog would "come up to the cage at you" when it was confined.

"I think he'd bite you in a minute," Eaton said at the time.

He also said his workers fed it twice a day, but didn't bother the dog otherwise.

Ridge, during Friday's hearing, asked defense attorney George Ford how his client could promise the community would be protected.

"There is a pen on the premises that the dog can't get out of," Ford said.

The judge then asked if there had been a pen during the Dec. 3 incident. Ford said there was, describing it with a lock. Ridge said that wasn't sufficient.

"My client indicates she would keep the dog in the house and not in the pen," Ford said.

Ousley said it's possible the dog could get loose. He declined to elaborate, citing the upcoming trial.

"This was the first time it actually attacked a person," he added.

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