The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

October 9, 2013

Dog-bite victims await rabies results

By Joe Wiercinski
Herald Staff Writer

SHARON — Three people bitten and seriously injured by a dog are waiting for test results to determine if the dog eventually shot by Sharon police had rabies.

“Harley,” a 7-year-old American bulldog, bit a man and a woman during the incident at about 6 p.m. Monday at 497 Columbia St., police Chief Mike Menster said. He declined to identify them.

He said they were acquainted with the dog’s owner, John Rogers, 39, who was not home at the time.

“We’re not sure of the relationships but the people involved knew each other,” Menster said.

The first victim, a 44-year-old man who lives at that West Hill address, was trying to remove the dog from the lap of a woman sitting on a chair. It bit him on the face, jaw and both arms, causing severe injuries.

The woman, 44, also of Sharon, was bitten on a leg and wrist when she grabbed the dog to pull it away from the man. They eventually managed to chain the dog outside, Menster said.

The man’s mother came to the house and began applying compresses to slow his heavy loss of blood, Menster said.

When police arrived and were walking with the victim, accompanied by his mother, out of the house, the dog lunged and bit both her and her son, grabbing his arm and holding on, Menster said.

“It held on like Vice-grips,” Menster said, “and didn’t let go until the officer shot it. He shot it three times.”

The man, who was taken by ambulance to the hospital of Sharon Regional Health System, “had severe injuries to his mouth, jaw and face and will likely need plastic surgery,” Menster said.

His mother also went to the hospital.

EMTs with the ambulance told the woman bitten on the wrist and leg she would need stitches and she was taken privately for treatment, Menster said.

Rogers, who returned home later, told police he had given the dog away during the winter but that person returned it to him because it had bitten someone else, Menster said.

Rogers could not show that the dog had current immunizations. As a result, it was taken to Meadville for testing by a veterinarian, Menster said.

“We will wait until we have all the information we need before we consider any charges,” Menster said.

Gerda Widmyer, whose Sharon-based nonprofit Animal Advocacy deals with animal issues, said rabies tests in cases like this typically take a day or two to yield results.

She said Harley was an unneutered male and has been euthanized. Animal Advocacy helped Rogers with a portion of those expenses, she said.

Widmyer took the opportunity to stress the importance of vaccinating pets. “We have rabies here in the valley and Mercer County,” she said. “Rabies is a lethal disease – and not just for dogs and cats. It can be deadly for humans, too.”