80-year-old Scotia man in hospital after pit bull attack

Authorities can’t find animal or its owner after attack

Tuesday, September 24, 2013
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— An elderly Scotia man has been hospitalized after an attack by his neighbor’s pit bull over the weekend, village officials and neighbors said.

Now the location of the dog is unclear, Mayor Kris Kastberg said. Police went to the home Tuesday, after delays due to a lack of an on-duty animal control officer, but there was no sign of the dog or its owner, whose name was not available.

The incident happened Saturday afternoon on Alexander Avenue, neighbors said, as the victim, 80-year-old Clifford Semerad, returned a bowl to the dog owner through the backyard.

The two were apparently on good terms — the dog owner had given Semerad the bowl full of vegetables, neighbors said.

“The dog, he didn’t even see the dog,” Semerad’s neighbor Alex Torres said Tuesday. “The dog came out of nowhere and lunged at him.”

“He said he put the bucket up, they grabbed it and the next thing he knows he’s basically fighting for his life in the ground,” Torres added.

Torres, who lives on the opposite side of Semerad as the dog owner, said he spoke with Semerad after he returned home from his initial visit to the hospital over the weekend.

Infection set into the wounds to his head and arms, though, and Semerad returned to the hospital, where he remained Tuesday, Torres said.

As for the dog, its whereabouts are unknown, Kastberg said. The incident was reported to animal control after it happened, but there is no animal control officer on duty over the weekend. Then the officer, who is shared with Glenville, was out sick both Monday and Tuesday.

Later Tuesday, the village police took over the case, Kastberg said. Police Chief Peter Frisoni went to the house, but there was no answer.

The house was also dark Tuesday evening, with no signs of any occupants.

There was talk that the owners were willing to give up the dog, Kastberg said. But without contact with them, police don’t know if that’s true.

The mayor also said there has been talk that the dog has bitten other people, though on its owner’s property, which is unfenced. Dog bites on the dog owner’s property generally are civil matters, Kastberg said. Once the dog leaves the property and bites someone, then authorities get involved.

Regardless, dog owners are supposed to have control over their dogs on their property, he said.

Kastberg did not know if the case would result in any citations. “Either way, we just can’t have it keep happening,” he said.

Torres said the dog’s owners have lived in that house since earlier this year. He said he’s seen the dog previously in the backyard with its leash tied to a tree.

Torres also said the dog’s apparent history has him concerned for others in the neighborhood, including his own 4-year-old son.

“It’s the owner’s responsibility,” Torres said. “It’s sad to blame an animal, but if you cannot maintain an animal, or take precautions to safeguard everybody else, then you cannot take possession of that animal.”

Torres also said he feels awful for Semerad, a man he described as a veteran and a long-standing member of the Scotia community.

Torres said he brought Semerad over some food after his initial return from the hospital.

“He really is an awesome neighbor,” Torres said of Semerad, “a very awesome neighbor.”

 

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