Baby’s face disfigured by pit bull;
 no charges

The Mesa County Sheriff’s Department said Thursday it will not pursue criminal charges in a case in which a Fruitvale infant was bitten in the face by the family’s pit bull, likely permanently disfiguring the child.

But a deputy who responded to a home at 586 Ronlin St. during the Tuesday night incident said items found in the yard may have been used to train the dog to attack, according to a report from the Sheriff’s Department.

“There were two blue nylons (sic) ropes hanging in the trees in the front and back yards of the property. There were set up with loops at the bottom end. In my experience these type rope set ups (sic) are sometimes used to train pit bulls to grab and hold and then drag and pull similar to training to teach dogs such as pit bulls to protect or attack,” according to a first report filed by “M. Roberts” with the Sheriff’s Department. “It is not known if this is what these two ropes were used for in this circumstance.”

In a supplemental report in the case, in which Cpl. Jamie Pennay interviewed the child’s mother, Amy Knepper, the deputy advised the mother that no charges would be likely.

“I advised Amy that based on her statement and what was seen on the scene, I did not see anything of concern,” Pennay’s report read.

Pennay informed Knepper, who was concerned that her child would be taken away from her, that Child Protective Services would be contacted. Pennay explained that is standard procedure in such a case.

Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger said on Thursday that he was not contacted about the case and was not asked by the Sheriff’s Department whether he would recommend charges. He said someone in his office may have been contacted about whether his office would press charges, but Hautzinger was not immediately aware of it.

According to the report, Knepper was playing on the ground with her child and their dark, brindle pit bull, Presley, when “all of a sudden the dog attacked (her daughter) and (Amy) pulled (her daughter) away.”

Knepper couldn’t immediately separate her child from the dog and had to pull the child away, she told deputies, according to the report.

An emergency room doctor at St. Mary’s Hospital reported that the child sustained multiple lacerations to her face, including muscle damage. He said the child would be permanently disfigured and the doctor signed a form that indicated the child sustained serious bodily injury from the incident, the report said.

A neighbor told deputies the dog had been “playful and non-aggressive until the recent past. She said it attacked other dogs passing the location in the past and has been seen acting aggressive at the chain link fence when others walk by the residence,” the report said.

Knepper told deputies they had Presley for seven years and he was their “baby” before she had a child. Knepper told deputies Presley had been good with her and her child, but started to get aggressive with other dogs after her child was born.

Knepper said she was concerned about the change and had a trainer visit who told her Presley was a good family dog.

Knepper told deputies she wanted Presley put down and that she didn’t want to go back into the home with the dog there. Animal control officers took possession of the dog without incident.

The dog is in the custody of Mesa County Animal Services on a rabies hold, which is standard in cases of dog attacks, according to Penny McCarty, director of Mesa County Animal Services.


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