Probation for Detroit dog owner in neighbor’s mauling

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — The man whose dogs attacked a neighbor and tore off nearly half of his body received two years of probation Friday for the incident.

Derick Felton, 62, was charged with harboring a pack of vicious dogs that became loose and attacked Michael Constantine, 50, a resident in his neighborhood. The dogs attacked Constantine, who was trying to feed them, and appeared to eat him alive Oct. 2 on the 4500 block of Pennsylvania.

The attack was so vicious, according to a Detroit police investigation, that arriving medics “were unable to exit their rig because the dogs were too aggressive.”

The dogs, which included pitbulls and other breeds, only stopped their attack when police arrived. They rounded up about 11 of the animals and shot two of them, killing one. The remaining dogs ran back to Felton’s home and were later euthanized.

Constantine was found nearly naked with major wounds. He lost most of his left arm, his left leg below the knee and his left ear in the attack and has been recovering in a rehabilitation facility ever since.

Felton pleaded guilty to three counts of dangerous animals causing injury in the case. He was facing trial this month.

Felton is also barred from owning any animals and could be jailed for six months at the end of his probation if he doesn’t comply with court orders.

“You should not only accept responsibility, but undergo imprisonment,” Judge Michael J. Callahan said. “However, that is not possible in this case.”

Callahan said his earlier attempts at exceeding sentencing guidelines have been overturned.

Constantine did not attend the hearing.

After the hearing, Felton told WWJ-AM (950) he was sorry Constantine was injured.

Constantine’s sister, Katherine Hawley, was her brother’s primary caretaker for six months after the attack. Speaking after the sentencing, she said he “was a natural athlete his whole life,” but now has trouble dialing a telephone, walking and opening a door.

Constantine filed a civil lawsuit in the case seeking at least $25,000 in damages from the dogs’ owners. A “symbolic” $100,000 settlement was reached in the case. The suit claims Felton and his wife were negligent and failed to take proper precautions with their dogs.

In police statements, Felton admitted the dogs barked and growled “a lot.” Constantine said the dogs were known to “go after people.”

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The Associated Press contributed.