Girl mauled by dog

Charges considered

 A 10-year-old girl mauled by a dog more than a week ago at a home on the western outskirts of Springfield remains hospitalized as the Sangamon County state’s attorney’s office and the state Department of Children and Family Services conduct investigations.

The girl’s injuries were potentially life threatening when she was rushed to St. John’s Hospital after the April 11 attack and taken into surgery, according to a Sangamon County sheriff’s department report. She suffered bites over her entire body, according to reports from the sheriff’s office and the Sangamon County Animal Control Center. On a scale of one to six, with six being death, the injuries were rated a five, according to a report prepared by a Sangamon County animal control officer. The dog had ripped the girl’s clothes off in a backyard where she was attacked, according to a sheriff’s report.

“There were blood stains, pieces of skin and other body tissue laying throughout the backyard,” a deputy wrote in his report.

The girl’s 15-year-old sister told a deputy that she, too, had been bitten by the dog named Merlin about two months ago, and deputy, who examined the old wounds, reported that they had turned into scars. The bite was not reported to authorities, according to a sheriff’s report.

“We are investigating…for allegations of neglect,” said Andrew Flach, DCFS spokesman.

Flach said that DCFS is aware that the dog had previously bitten and is investigating whether adults improperly allowed the dog to come into contact with the girl who was mauled on April 11.

“We’ve had no prior contact with this family,” Flach said.

The Sangamon County state’s attorney’s office is considering criminal charges.

“All I have is the initial (sheriff’s) report,” said state’s attorney John Milhiser. “It’s too early to say what the appropriate charge, if any, is in this case.”

The older girl and her mother started looking for the injured child about 12:20 p.m. and found her about 20 minutes later, laying down near a fence in the back yard, according to the sheriff’s report. The dog was sitting next to her. The older girl’s mother, who is not the mother of the injured girl, put the dog in a bedroom and the injured child, who lives in Chatham, was rushed to St. John’s Hospital.

A man who lives at the home and is described in reports as the stepfather of the two girls told a deputy that he considered the dog “mean and vicious” and that his wife, apparently the woman who took the dog into the house, was the only person who could control it. He said that he had gotten the dog from a friend about a year ago and that it would not bother his family if the dog was killed “because everyone is afraid of him.”

When an animal control officer arrived and tried to capture the dog from the bedroom, the dog managed to burst through the partially open door and charge a deputy, who deployed his Taser on the dog. The animal control officer was then able to get a neck snare around the animal. The dog bit at the snare and fought as the animal control officer pulled it out of the house, a deputy reported. When the dog was outside and apparently calmed down, the deputy who had tased the animal tried to retrieve his Taser prongs and was bitten on his knee, prompting another deputy again tase the dog.

The animal control employee managed to get the dog to his truck, but couldn’t get the dog inside, according to reports. While the employee and deputies discussed the best way to get the dog inside so that no one else would be injured, the dog tried to attack the animal control employee and deputies, according reports from animal control and the sheriff’s office. A sheriff’s sergeant then tased the dog for the third time, then called a veterinarian to see about getting it sedated.

“The dog was visibly tired at that point from the constant fighting and multiple Taser applications,” a deputy wrote in his report. “A short time later, the dog died for unknown reasons.”

The girl’s present medical condition could not immediately be determined, but a woman who answered the door at the home where the attack occurred said that her condition has improved.

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