Thursday, October 21, 2010
James Bright, Jr. after 3 surgeries.
Pleads Not Guilty
UPDATE 10/21/10: On Monday, Virgil C. Mitchell III pleaded not guilty to a fourth-degree felony, a charge that was not initially anticipated, and four misdemeanor charges in connection to the dog attack that hospitalized James Bright, Jr. If convicted, Mitchell faces up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine on the felony charge, and 60 days in jail and a $750 fine for each lesser charge. Between now and the trial date, January 25, Mitchell cannot harbor any dogs.
Police seized four Cane Corsos following the attack, but after sorting through witness statements, they learned that a fifth dog, named Killer,1 was also involved. Shortly after the October 5 incident, Mitchell’s girlfriend, Roxanne Peffers,2 registered Killer and the other unseized dog with the Delaware County Auditor’s Office. Initially, she registered the dogs under Mitchell’s home address, later she asked the auditor to change this to her address.
"Who Owns the Dog" Charade
The defense of course argued that the dogs belonged to Peffers, not Mitchell. Prosecutor O'Brien, however, said that Killer, at least in a "de facto" sense, belonged to Mitchell. "He took that dog to Miss Peffers within hours of the attack," O'Brien said. "We believe, in an attempt to hide that dog from the authorities." Mitchell, still only concerned about the dogs, disputed that the sixth dog even belonged to him. The judge instructed the attorneys to "work it out."
Mitchell painfully exemplifies the universal dangerous dog owner: A repeat offender, breeding more dangerous dogs out of his home; Mitchell's first actions after the attack were to hide the remaining dogs and have his girlfriend register them under her address; when that didn't work, he denied owning one dog at all; and finally, when all this courtroom nonsense blows over -- it is doubtful Mitchell believes he will be convicted -- he can get his two frankenmaulers back.
10/07/10: Repeat Offender Finally Charged
Delaware, OH - On Wednesday, The Delaware Gazette reported that four Cane Corsos, a breed that is often crossbred with pit bulls,3 so much so that the City of Aurora banned them, attacked and severely injured a man as he walked down the street. Corsos are typically over 100 lbs. Their combined weight alone grossly outmatched 67-year old James Bright, Jr. who suffered, among other things, a broken leg and "big chunks" taken from his neck and arm.
The initial Gazette article also detailed the horribly checkered past of the dogs' owner, Virgil C. Mitchell III4 who is a convicted felon, and the numerous documented violations of Mitchell's dogs by Delaware police and the Delaware County Dog Warden. What the Gazette writers possibly did not realize is that the case of Virgil C. Mitchell III is replicated in all 50 U.S. states, many with no legal provisions to criminally prosecute appalling repeat offenders like Mitchell.
Quick Rundown of Mitchell's Prior Offenses
- (2001) Complaint for dogs running loose, police investigated
- (2002) Complaint for dog running loose, officers dropped charges after Mitchell agreed to purchase state required insurance for one of the dogs, a pit bull, caught at large.
- (2004) Complaint for dogs running loose, police investigated
- (2004) Complaint for dogs running loose, police investigated
- (2005) Complaint for bite upon human being, victim declined to press charges.
- (2005) Complaint for dogs running loose and menacing. Mitchell was charged with having dogs at large.
- (2006) Complaint for dogs running loose
- (2006) Complaint for bite upon human being. Mitchell was ordered to pay victim's $2,000 medical bills and a $418 fine for court costs.
- (2006) Court ordered to not have any dogs over 20 lbs for two years due to 2006 biting incident.
- (2008) Charged with failing to register and vaccinate his dogs.
- (2009) Mitchell pleaded guilty to a felonious assault charge and was sentenced to 60 days in jail.
- (2010) Complaint for bite upon human being, victim declined to press charges after Mitchell agreed to pay the victim's medical bills.
- (2010) Charged with 4 misdemeanor charges and 12 minor misdemeanor charges after the violent attack upon James Bright, Jr.
In a follow up article published Thursday, the Gazette reported more disheartening news. The news, however, is true in most U.S. states and shows the terrible injustice victims of serious dog attacks face and how kicked off the "radar of importance" the justice system treats gross repeat offenders like Mitchell. In Ohio, Mitchell faces just four misdemeanor charges and a handful of minor misdemeanor charges -- at maximum, a $4,800 fine and 360 days in jail.
From a phone interview, the victim told the Gazette that he had so far received two skin grafts on his arms and that 35 clamps were used to treat his head and neck injuries. Bright said that he had been walking to a relative's house Tuesday morning to get coffee when Mitchell's dogs attacked. After the animals knocked him to the ground, they "immediately started biting me," he said. All he could think about at the time was protecting his face, which he managed to do.
Bright intends to pursue legal action against the dogs' owner. Toledo-based attorney Dale Emch, who specializes in dog bite injury, was quoted in the follow up article. He said that state law from a civil standpoint is very straightforward. Unless Mitchell can show the victim was taunting the dogs, he could be held civilly liable, according to Emch. That would include the payment of Bright's medical bills, pain and suffering and possible additional punitive damages.
2It should not surprise readers that Peffers was charged with Trafficking in Cocaine in 2008 or that Mitchell is currently under the supervision of Adult Court Services over a 2008 felonious assault conviction. Owners of dangerous dogs are often dangerous, non-law abiding people, but still have far more rights than Bright.
3"The present-day Cane Corso exists in decent numbers, but because of reckless breeding and crosses with some bull-breeds, it is getting difficult to find a true representative of the breed." (molosserdogs.com)
4In an October 13 video, Mitchell said, "People are treating him as though he killed the man." Apparently, three surgeries, including skin grafts, and the victim's ability to ever walk again is insignificant. He also said, "He wished this whole thing would just go away." But it's not going away, nor will the long recovery Bright faces.
06/24/09: Louisiana State Dog Attack Law (HB 155) Wins Final Legislative Approval
05/19/09: New Nebraska Law Focuses on Repeat Owners of Dangerous Dogs
04/10/09: Animal Control: "This is Not Just a Bite. This is a Mauling."
08/23/08: Suing Animal Control Agencies After a Dog Attack
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| 10/07/2010 8:01 PM |
I dont know why anyone would want one of these evil evil creatures. Why risk your life and someone elses just so you can have a big dog.
http://pitbullattacks.net has some great information on how to ban them.
| 10/08/2010 2:04 AM |
Were the dogs traced back to the breeder?
Breeders state that dogs are property.
Well, just like companies, breeders need to be responsible for the liability their produced product creates.
The breeder(s) of these dogs need to be named in the lawsuit.
As for the police officer and his statement about "self policing," do they allow criminals to self-police themselves? This dog owner was a criminal that broke the law. The city or town helped him continue to break the law over and over again, until the inevitable attack happened. They are as guilty as the dog owner.
Cities and towns MUST be sued when they behave like this. They enabled this attack.
Also, the person that did not press charges when bitten did a very bad thing, probably without knowing. ALL dog attacks must be reported officially and charges made, as well as a lawsuit. If that had happened, this attack probably would not have.
| 10/08/2010 9:24 AM |
From user (domsdad):
Many times the question itself is the best answer. How often have we doubted out loud the sensibilities of another’s actions only to hear the retort “If you have to ask” When the question becomes are Pit Bulls dangerous, “really do you have to ask” Sane people weight risk against reward. For them it is natural to recognize the 160 dog breeds available to choose from as abundant opportunity to take a responsible decision. These folks forge their identity in the soundness of mind and reward that comes from balanced decision taking. In their vernacular such choices are referred to as a “no brainier“. Which begs the question who in their right mind, Come on now “Really do you have to ask”
| 10/08/2010 9:40 AM |
The response offered by the police is insulting. It's further disturbing that the Dog Warden won't even go on the record. Both departments must be feeling quite foolish given all of the RESOURCES Mitchell's dogs have already taken (call after call, ticket after ticket). Given their actions, it was inevitable that a horrible James Bright situation would result. The 2010 victim critically erred by not pressing charges. But how much did this person truly know about Mitchell's past? My guess is, NEITHER the police nor the Dog Warden shared Mitchell's lengthily track record with the person. They may, however, have shared that Mitchell was a convicted felon, which scared the hell out of the person.
| 10/08/2010 10:04 AM |
Even though it's incredibly difficult to sue a county or township for negligence or wrong doing (most have legislation in place that is very restrictive) the victim of this dog attack should consider it and pursue it if it's at all feasible. The police department and animal control UTTERLY failed in their duties, and this is the inevitable result. And this should be a lesson to ANY victim of a dog attack, whether the dog owner pays medical bills or not. REPORT. PRESS CHARGES, or you, too, could have blood on your hands.
| 10/14/2010 9:16 AM |
As much as I'd like to see BSL, roundup and putting-down of all dogs of fighting breeds...
It would really help if we'd just instantly put down any dog (never mind breed) that seriously attacked a human or other animal.
Why would anyone have a problem with that, considering it isn't BSL?
| 10/16/2010 10:21 AM |
Sputnik, I AGREE! i completely and totally support euthanizing dogs that attack unprovoked (and i am not talking about perceived provocation). it should be an automatic death sentence, regardless of victim's species, regardless of breed.
| 10/21/2010 9:29 PM |
I think it's clear now why at least one of the other bite victims did NOT want to bring charges. Police and animal control knew about this dangerous pair and their dangerous frankenmaulers. Dog Warden Bob Ferguson still hasn't talked to the media...
| 8/05/2016 10:40 AM |
Me and my dog were attacked by three dogs in Toledo on July 15,16. I held my Pomeranian up over my head to try to save him, but they got him 3 times, and they then attacked both my legs. I think 2 of them were mixed cane corsos and pit. I had never seen pit bulls that large with huge heads. I was taken by ambulance to the ER and a neighbor took my dog to the vet. I was wheel chair bound for 2 weeks and I'm unable to have a normal gait. The same dogs attacked another person before me, and I mistakenly thought that those dogs would have been taken by the dog warden then, but I was wrong. After I was bitten, neighbors told me of another person that had been attacked on a street over. I was told by the dw that there is no limit to how many times someone's dogs can bite, each case is handle individually. I was told that unless you have a serious injury, the dogs won't be taken. What is serious to them? I could have lost my foot and still cannot walk too much on it. I still have horrible pain from damaged nerves. These dogs still remain in a house that doesn't even have a fenced yard. No one is safe.
| 8/05/2016 10:51 AM |
We encourage you to leave this same comment at the following blog (
Scorched Earth, the Politics of Pit Bulls) that primarily blogs about Ohio dog bite issues. The most recent post talks about the Montgomery County Dog Warden (Dayton) and how he is currently being sued for failure to take proper action (impound the dogs & designate the dogs as a nuisance) after 13 complaints and 46 calls to Dayton police. His failure resulted in a woman's horrific death. The Scorched Earth blogger will be very interested in knowing the same thing is happening in Lucas County.