Dog attack spurs citations, possible policy shift

Sheriff to commend deputy for restraint; pet’s owner to be cited for lack of it

By Kathleen Brady SheaManaging Editor, The Times

Cpl. Kurt Hansen

Cpl. Kurt Hansen

A deputy sheriff attempting to serve civil papers didn’t have a lot of time to react on Wednesday, April 2, when a Great Pyrenees mountain dog lunged, initially biting him in the arm.

In his report of the incident, Cpl. Kurt Hansen said he had seen “no trespassing” and “beware of dog” signs on the leafy driveway leading up to the Glenmoore home; as a result, he had beeped his horn to let the owners know of his presence, hoping that someone would come out in response.  He said that he had also seen a young child playing on the back deck.

When no one appeared at the door, Hansen wrote that he was headed to the area where he had seen the child when he suddenly heard barking and saw the 100-pound-plus dog barreling toward him. Too far from his vehicle to take cover, Hansen said as the dog bit into the inside of his left arm, he drew his gun. But he didn’t want to shoot someone’s pet, and he was able to push the dog away temporarily with his left hand as a woman exited the house, the report said.

Hansen yelled for her to call off the dog because he didn’t want to fire, but the dog was on him again. Hansen said he managed to grab the dog by the throat while pinning it to the ground. In the process, the dog inflicted two more bites, this time to Hansen’s left lower leg. Once the owner regained control of the dog, Hansen – with bleeding wounds and a muddy, torn uniform – quickly explained his mission, handed the papers to the resident, and then drove himself to the hospital, the report said.

Chester County Sheriff Carolyn “Bunny” Welsh said Hansen spent several hours in Chester County Hospital’s Emergency Room, where he was given instructions to follow up with his family doctor. Welsh said Hansen was told that the puncture wounds need to heal on their own, but he needs to guard against infection. She said she and her staff were amazed when he showed up for work the next day. “I told him I thought he would take a couple of days off to recuperate,” she said, adding that he said it wasn’t necessary.

“He showed tremendous restraint,” she said. “It could have been a very different outcome – and a tragedy for the family.”

Welsh said the incident underscores the risks the deputies face on any given day. “It’s like a police officer doing a traffic stop,” she said. “You never know what’s going to be inside that car. It’s always the danger of the unknown.”

She said the episode marked the second encounter with a charging animal in the last few months for a member of her office. In the earlier case, a deputy used pepper spray to subdue a dog. Because the spray can sometimes blow back and injure the deputy, she said she planned to revisit the issue of Tasers. “We’ve talked about it before, but I didn’t think it was needed,” she said. “It may be time to reconsider it.”

Welsh said Hansen reported the encounter to the Chester County SPCA on Thursday, April 3, and the dog owners will be cited for not having control of the dog. Welsh said Hansen would also be cited: for his professionalism and self-control under difficult – and painful – circumstances.

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One Comment

  1. Dolores Leeson says:

    Glad the deputy had some control and was able to subdue the dog but the story states the dog came from the area where a young child was playing. The deputy was on private property and the dog was protecting the child. a natural instinct for a pet who loves the child.
    When I was a child a boy attacked me with a stick and my newfoundland bit him badly. A horrible thing but my dog was protecting me.

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