Dog owner defends self in mauling: ‘It’s not my fault’
Robert Laughton of Roseville denies accusations that he was abusive to the pet that injured his mother and her boyfriend. David Guralnick, The Detroit News
Roseville – Authorities are considering charging the owner of a dog that mauled two people, Roseville’s police chief said Tuesday, while the pet’s owner said he shouldn’t be blamed for the attack.
Robert Laughton spoke out in the wake of the attack Sunday in which his mother and her boyfriend were seriously injured by his dog, which was euthanized Monday. Police Chief James Berlin identified the dog as a pit-bull mix.
“I didn’t do anything wrong,” Laughton told The Detroit News. “It’s not my fault. My dog was loved. He had toys. I did not abuse my dog. I didn’t make my dog vicious. My dog did what he did. He’s paid for it.”
Laughton said he wanted to talk about the incident and his 11/2-year-old dog, Bruce, who he described as a retriever “bully mix,” because he feels he is getting unfairly slammed online and elsewhere.
“I don’t feel I should be slandered and bashed like I am,” he said.
Berlin said his department is preparing a warrant request on a possible charge of harboring vicious animals causing injuries. He said he expects the request to be presented Wednesday to the Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office, which will decide if charges should be brought.
Laughton said he is struggling to cope with the injuries to his mother and her boyfriend, and with the possibility of being charged.
“It’s emotionally overwhelming,” he said.
Laughton said he wasn’t home when the attack occurred but his sister told him the horrific details of the incident that occurred around 9 p.m. Sunday at the family’s home in the 30600 block of Normal near 13 Mile and Utica Road.
Laughton said his mother and her boyfriend were sitting on the sofa with Bruce when the dog attacked his mother.
“The dog was licking on her. She put him down and he started attacking her,” said Laughton.
The dog then attacked the woman’s boyfriend.
Sunday was not the first time the dog bit Laughton’s mother. A ticket was issued against Laughton for an April 12 incident in which Bruce bit Laughton’s mother on the arms, requiring 30 stitches.
After the incident last month, Laughton said the city suggested that he have Bruce, who weighed 60 pounds, euthanized for $200 but that he and his mother didn’t want to pay for it and decided to give the dog another chance.
Laughton displayed a hard-plastic muzzle for the dog to avoid any more bites.
Laughton said he believes the Sunday incident was caused by a “neurological trigger” the dog might have been experiencing. Laughton added that he thought the dog bit his mom’s boyfriend out of fear when the man allegedly grabbed the dog by the collar to get him from Laughton’s mother.
“Bruce didn’t know what was happening, so he reacted. He loved my mom,” said Laughton. “They were great friends.”
Berlin said the 52-year-old woman had been upgraded from critical condition Monday to good condition.
The chief said the boyfriend, 51, was in serious condition Tuesday and underwent extensive surgery to repair damage on his arms from the attack. Berlin said the man lost part of his ear, suffered injuries to his neck and chest and will require several more surgeries.
“He’s got a long road to recovery,” the chief said.
According to a preliminary investigation, the couple had been out Sunday evening and the woman let the dog out of his crate when they returned. Police said the dog attacked her without warning or provocation and the man came to her aid. The dog then turned on the man.
Officers met the bloodied woman outside her home, where she said she’d been attacked by her son’s pit bull, police said.
She told officers a man had been attacked too and was inside the house.
At the front door of the home, a neighbor was yelling at a dog to “get away,” police said. Officers approached and saw a man “unconscious on the living room floor, suffering from horrific bites to his arms and face,” a statement on the incident said.
But the dog “was present and was extremely aggressive,” to the point the emergency personnel didn’t feel safe entering the home.
An officer went to the back door and pounded on it to distract the dog, who walked toward the noise, allowing paramedics to enter, police said. When the dog returned to the front of the home, a firefighter used a Taser, which kept the dog neutralized long enough to remove the man.