R.I.P. Mr. Bonzo
UPDATE 04/08/08: Uncle of the Year, Matthew Beaulieu, abruptly dropped his appeal to the Wichita City Council. He relinquished Mr. Bonzo to authorities just before the meeting. The dog was immediately euthanized, said Kay Johnson, director of environmental services.
04/07/08: Wichita Pit Bull Owner Blames Niece for Being Attacked
Wichita, KS - The fate of a pit bull named Mr. Bonz will be determined by the Wichita City Council tomorrow when it takes up the first test of the city's new dangerous dog ordinance. Mr. Bonzo recently bit a child on the face who received 26 stitches and surgery to repair. The pit bull owner says his niece likely caused the attack even though he did not witness the event.
No one disputes that Mr. Bonz bit the 5-year-old girl on the left cheek. No one disputes that the wound required 26 stitches and plastic surgery. But since no adults were in the room when the bite occurred, it remains in dispute whether the girl provoked the attack.
At Tuesday's hearing, the council could uphold the decision by the city's animal services division to euthanize Mr. Bonz, who is currently placed in segregation at the Wichita Animal Shelter. Or it could decide on a less permanent solution, such as requiring that Mr. Bonz be outfitted with a microchip and his owner buy a $100,000 in liability insurance policy. They could also determine that the dog isn't dangerous at all.
After animal control officials concluded that Mr. Bonz should be euthanized, the owner, Matthew Beaulieu, appealed. Evidence at the hearing showed that Mr. Bonz was not vaccinated or licensed at the time of the bite, and that he had once bitten his owner on the hand. Dennis Graves, the city's animal services supervisor, said he thought it was likely that Mr. Bonz would bite again.
Beaulieu said the first bite was an accident that happened as he and Mr. Bonzo were playing. On the night before his niece was bitten, he warned her not to torment Mr. Bonz after "trying to ride him like a horse." Beaulieu said that a similar behavior may have preceded the bite. The hearing supervisor, Don Henry, didn't buy it; he upheld the decision that the dog be euthanized.
In a letter defending Mr. Bonz, Beaulieu described him as "a loving family dog that has never shown aggression to any human being young or old, to people he knows or strangers that he sees for the first time." He said ordering his dog euthanized would be an injustice to the dog and to his children, ages 4, 3 and 1, "who love and miss him and are waiting for him to come home." (See Pit bull owners: Not your average breed)
The girl's mother, Danielle Cady, said in a statement to animal control officials that she was concerned for the safety of the children who live with Mr. Bonz. "He has bit twice now," she wrote. "I don't want to receive a phone call saying that one of their children were hurt." Cady said in an interview that she would try to attend the council meeting to support the decision of animal control officers.
01/30/08: Nominated: Mother of the Year