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Oberlin couple wants change in city law after dog attack

8-year-old daughter suffered multiple injuries
Oberlin couple wants change in city law after dog attack
Posted at 10:25 PM, Nov 02, 2021

OBERLIN, Ohio — Sara and Ernest Watson of Oberlin have been left frustrated and hurt after their 8-year-old daughter was the victim of an Oct. 8 dog attack, but believe not enough has been done to ensure neighborhood safety.

According to an Oberlin police report, the little girl was attacked by a 65-pound 10-month-old Belgian Malinois while she was playing at a neighbor's home. The 8-year-old was rushed to Mercy Allen Hospital with puncture wounds to multiple parts of her body, including her neck, shoulder, torso, and leg.

The Watson's told News 5 they were stunned when the Oberlin officer who came to the scene didn't cite the dog owners, request the dog be taken in for evaluation by the Lorain County Dog Warden, and wrote on the police report the case was closed.

Blurred image of a wound caused by a dog attack in Oberlin

WARNING: Graphic image - Click here to view the unblurred image.

“It was just like every part of her body was bleeding," Sara Watson said. "I couldn't believe police looked at my daughter, took pictures of her, and right then and there say this is not a vicious dog, case closed, this is a civil matter. This is not normal behavior, the dog was not stopping, it’s going to happen again.”

“The warden and police are sending me back and forth, it’s on them, it’s on them. They were not cited, I just don’t understand.”

News 5 contacted Oberlin Police Chief Ryan Warfield about this case and he quickly issued the following statement:

The dog warden was contacted. There is an entry in the logs and an entry in our phone recorder. Our officers operated within the appropriate policy. I empathize with the family, one of my brothers was bitten by a dog when we were young. I can truly appreciate the anger of a parent, my sons are my world.

Warfield referenced Oberlin city law that states a potentially dangerous animal is prohibited only if it has previously attacked without provocation.

News 5 isn't naming the dog owners in this case because they were not issued a citation in connection with the attack.

Ernest Watson is hoping the Lorain County Dog Warden will look further into the case in the coming days.

“She was bitten over 30 times, she has stitches all around her neck," Watson said. “My daughter is afraid to wait for the school bus. It’s attacked her and it’s still here.”

”It would be nice if a professional with dogs would evaluate it and decide if that violates the ordinance and it if should still be allowed to be here.”

News 5 spoke to the Lorain County Dog Warden by telephone and sent him copies of the Oberlin police report and pictures of the 8-year-old's injuries. The warden told News 5 he would look further into the case.

Meanwhile, Sara Watson believes Oberlin city law needs to be changed. She believes a dog owner should face a potential misdemeanor charge, and the dog should have been taken into custody for evaluation after the first attack, when it comes to more aggressive dog attack cases.

"City law should be changed," Watson said. “So they have to wait for it to happen again, so everybody is at risk until this happens again and then they’ll do something, that’s just not acceptable."