Falls officers recovering after pit bull attack; five dogs seized

2017-11-22 | Niagara Gazette

Nov. 22--Two Falls police officers were injured late Tuesday morning when one of them was attacked by a pit bull and the other was hit by a ricocheting bullet that was fired at the dog.

The officers were treated and later released from area hospitals, while the attacking pit bull was killed and five other dogs were seized and are in the custody of the SPCA of Niagara.

Patrol Officer Robert Miles was in the 1100 block of North Avenue at 11 a.m., when he spotted two pit bulls loose in the neighborhood. Miles then called for assistance from Officer Dave Bower, the department's animal control officer.

"Officer Bower recognized the dogs and knew who their owner was," Deputy Police Superintendent Nicholas Ligammari said. "Together with Officer Miles, he was able to secure the dogs on leashes."

Bower attempted to take the dogs to their home, at 1122 North Ave., and as Miles waited on the sidewalk with one of the dogs, he knocked on the front door of the residence.

"(The owner) opened the door and as she was talking to (Bower) another dog, a black pit bull that was inside the home, came running down a hallway toward the front door and began attacking Officer Bower," Ligammari said.

The deputy superintendent said Bower tried to fight off the dog, but that the animal was clawing and biting him. He described the dog's attack as "relentless."

As the struggle continued, Bower was able to draw his handgun and fired several rounds at the dog. The shots stopped the attack and killed the dog.

But one of the bullets apparently ricocheted off the concrete porch and struck Miles in his right thigh.

"Dave got chewed on pretty bad on his arm and thigh. His uniform pants were badly ripped," Ligamarri said. "(Miles) did not appear to be seriously injured. He was standing up and walking around."

Ligammari said most of the police command staff responded to the scene because they were nearby, serving a pre-Thanksgiving lunch to students at Harry F. Abate Elementary School.

Bower was transported to Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center where he was treated and released.

Miles was taken to the Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo were he was evaluated and treated and then released.

By late Tuesday afternoon, Ligammari said both officers were home and recovering from their wounds and injuries.

Police said their investigation of the incident is continuing and charges are pending against the dog's owner.

The two loose dogs were seized by agents with the SPCA of Niagara because they were unlicensed. Police and SPCA investigators also found and seized three pit bull puppies from inside the North Avenue home.

"They appear to be about five to six weeks old," said SPCA of Niagara Executive Director Amy Lewis. "They're healthy and very friendly."

Lewis said the two adult dogs and three puppies will be held at the SPCA's shelter for five days, as required by state law. After that, the owner will be allowed to claim them but will need to show proof that the dogs are licensed.

"If the (dog) owner does not claim them, they will be evaluated and then put up for adoption," Lewis said.