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Elderly woman attacked by pit bulls
Victim wants others to learn from her ordeal
By By MIKE WIGGINS The Daily Sentinel
Friday, February 03, 2006
Gina Kelley knew she was in trouble when she and the dog looked at each other at the same time.
The 71-year-old woman was out for a walk on Anna Court in her Orchard Mesa neighborhood Jan. 28 when she saw two pit bull mixes running loose in the street. She had run across one of the dogs a month earlier, and it had scared her, so she turned around to head home.
But it was too late.
“The dog saw me, and it was down there on me,” she said.
The second dog soon joined in.
“The next thing I knew, I was on the ground, and I thought, ‘Well, I guess I’m going to die.’ I couldn’t get up,” she said.
Kelley said the two dogs bared their teeth and barked at her, then jumped on her and knocked her down. The fall broke her right arm, and she said the dogs bit her on the buttocks and left her with cuts on her knee and ankle.
Kelley called The Daily Sentinel to share her story because she said she wants to warn people, particularly her neighbors, of the danger of at-large dogs and encourage them to protect themselves. She said the dogs live at an apartment near a school bus stop.
“I wanted to tell people to be sure to have protection if they’re going out for a walk,” she said. “You just don’t know what you’re going to meet.”
The two dogs, which are both males and approximately a year old, have been quarantined for 10 days. One is in the custody of Mesa County Animal Services. The other was allowed to remain at home but can’t have any contact with any people or dogs outside the household and must be kept inside. If the dog goes outside, he must be on a leash or with the owner, Animal Services Director Penny McCarty said.
The owner of the dog, Keonnie Elkins, 25, 109 Anna Court, No. A8, was issued a summons for failing to control the dogs, having dogs at-large and failing to provide proof of a license. He was ordered to appear in court March 17 and faces $700 in fines if he’s convicted. His ticket indicates Kelley is seeking restitution.
A call to Elkins’ home went unanswered Friday.
The dogs that attacked Kelley live at Elkins’ apartment, which is around the corner and up the street from the Kelley home. There is a makeshift fence outside the back door to the apartment. On Friday, the fence was peeled back, leaving an opening, and a dog that appeared to be a pit bull or pit-bull mix was asleep on the back step.
Animal Services responded to 230 dog bite reports in Mesa County and the city of Grand Junction between Jan. 1 and Oct. 10, 2005. The most reports, 38, involved border collies, heelers and Australian shepherds. Pit bulls ranked second, with 26 reports.
McCarty said the number of bites involving pit bulls partially reflects the increasing popularity of the breed. She said the behavior the pit bulls exhibited on Jan. 28 isn’t specific to that breed but, in fact, can be exhibited in all breeds. It happens, she said, when dogs are allowed to run loose and develop a pack mentality.
“There are very responsible pit bull owners,” McCarty said. “There are also, because it’s a popular breed, a lot of irresponsible pit bull owners. It comes down to owner responsibility.”
McCarty said the pit bulls didn’t meet the criteria for being considered dangerous dogs because Kelley’s injuries weren’t serious enough and because the dogs didn’t have a significant history with Animal Services.
Officers were called out to Elkins’ address once before — on Jan. 18, when a neighbor reported that Elkins’ dogs were running loose, McCarty said. The neighbor said she had a female dog in heat but only wanted a warning issued. Officers left a note on Elkins’ door informing him they had received a report that his dogs were running loose and asked him to contact Animal Services, McCarty said.
Kelley, meanwhile, said she has to wear a cast for five weeks to allow her arm to heal. But she seems less concerned about herself than others.
“The main thing is to warn people how dangerous it can be,” she said. “I don’t want any kid getting killed.”
Mike Wiggins can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
Does anyone else think it sounds like the dogs were being playful and knocked her down? I can imagine that a semi-large dog jumping on when you are afraid of them might knock you off your feet, and cause you to hurt yourself.