Macomb dog attack victim fears for pet, possible rabies

Holly Fournier, and Mark Hicks

Washington Township — After a brutal attack by a “pit bull-type dog” that wounded a local man and his pet at a park this week, he and his wife are pleading for tips from the public to help find the dog’s owner who fled after the incident.

Tim Smith

“They shouldn’t leave, people like that,” Tim Smith told The Detroit News while recovering at home Thursday night. “The dog attacked and she just walks away and forgets about it. We just want her to come forward and own up to what her responsibilities are.

“And we want to know if the dog has its rabies up to date and its shots. Otherwise I’ve got to take the series of shots for the rabies vaccine.”

The Macomb County Sheriff’s Office also is seeking witnesses to the incident that was reported around 1:10 p.m. Wednesday at Gilcher-Crissman Park on the 6800 block of 29 Mile near Mound.

Police say Smith, 67, of Washington Township, was walking his small Havanese-mix dog named Charlie Brown in the park. A woman nearby was also walking her dog.

Both were leashed but the larger, black and white “pit-bull type” dog broke away from its female owner and rushed at Smith and his dog, officials said.

“The man told a deputy that he lifted his dog to try to protect it, and the other dog jumped on him, biting him and causing him to be dragged off his feet,” police said in a statement released Thursday. “The owner of the small dog and the handler of the other dog managed to separate the two animals.”

Smith said he usually walks his 3-year-old pooch daily at the park and hadn’t seen the other dog before.

Charlie Brown

The second canine, who answered to the name Bella, was noticeably larger than his dog and appeared to be on a retractable leash, which the Smiths believed might have snapped.

“You can’t have a pit bull dog like that on a retractable leash like that,” he said.

In a Facebook post Wednesday, Smith’s cousin Fara Saputo noted that he “did everything he could to protect Charlie including laying on him to protect. Charlie has many lacerations and not doing good. Tim was bitten on his head and hands.”

After the attack, Smith asked the other dog owner to report the incident and the woman agreed to follow the man to his residence, police said. She instead got into her vehicle and drove away.

Smith was treated by Washington Township Fire personnel and declined to be taken to a hospital, police said. His wife, Sera, came to the park, retrieved their dog and took it to a veterinarian.

The fallout was significant. Charlie Brown bore 13 puncture wounds, veterinarian workers determined, and appears to have inflammation around his hind area and shoulder, Sera Smith told The News. Her husband had bites on both hands, for which he received stitches.

While recovery could take a while, she said, “they should heal. It was just a scary situation. ... You don’t expect that when you’re going for a walk in the park.”

The woman who fled is described by officials as about 60 who was wearing a multi-colored coat. She was driving a tan SUV, possibly a Chevrolet Equinox or Buick Rendezvous.

“I would have never left like that,” Sera Smith said. “I’m sure she loves her dog and doesn’t want anything to happen to it. ... I just want to know if the dog has shots so my husband doesn’t have a series of shots.”

Meanwhile, Charlie Brown, whom the Smiths acquired as a rescue, might face another battle once the physical injuries heal.

“We don’t know his past, but he was fearful to start with,” Sera Smith said. “We were working on socializing him and he was doing better. So we’re probably back to square one. But that’s OK. We can go back and help him.”

Though traumatizing, the attack also served as a lesson, the Smiths said.

“When walking your dog, stay alert ... I think a lot of people take walking canes and that’s probably a good idea,” Sera Smith said. “You’ve got to be aware of your surroundings … if I’m going on a walk, I’m going to get myself a cane. We’re dog people. We don’t want to hurt another dog, but we can’t let it hurt us either.”

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Detective Renee Yax with the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office at (586) 307-9435.

hfournier@detroitnews.com

(313) 223-4616

Staff Writer Candice Williams contributed.