MORRISTOWN - A dog attacked four people inside a home at Pine Lake Trailer Court on Thursday, inflicting multiple bites and causing serious injuries.
Belmont Volunteer Fire Department Chief Bob Mills said medical crews from Belmont, Lafferty VFD and the Cumberland Trail Fire Department were treating and transporting four patients to a local hospital as a result of the incident.
"We have four patients with multiple bites, a couple serious - pit bull attack," Mills said as he prepared the department's squad to receive a patient on a stretcher.
Belmont County Dog Warden Lisa Williams took custody of the animal.
While one injured woman was carried to a waiting emergency squad on a stretcher, she gestured with her bandaged hands to another, small dog on the porch of a nearby home. She told Williams that dog was hers and asked Williams to put her pet inside her home.
At least two other injured people walked, with medical personnel supporting and guiding them, to squads that would take them to the hospital for further treatment. Wounds wrapped in bandages were apparent on various parts of their bodies, including their hands and legs.
Gary Radey, maintenance man for the trailer park, watched as the scene unfolded. He said the people in the home were dog-sitting the pit bull for its owner. Radey noted that a sheriff's deputy used a Tazer on the dog in an effort to halt the attack.
Belmont County Sheriff David Lucas confirmed that Deputy Joe Tysko used a Tazer to subdue the animal. Lucas said Tysko and Deputies Ron Miro and Jordan Blumling would have been "more than justified to dispatch the dog," but because the attack occurred in a residential area they did not feel it would be safe to do so. After the Tazer was used, Lucas said, the dog went to a porch and cowered there until Williams took it into custody.
"The deputies who responded did a terrific job," he added.
Lucas said he did not know what hospital the victims were taken to, and he noted that although their injuries were serious, they were not life threatening. He said three adults and one juvenile were injured, but he declined to release their names.
Lucas did not know what provoked the attack, but he added that the dog did live in the home of one of the victims. He said deputies today will send their report on the incident to the county prosecutor, who will determine whether charges will be filed.
Williams confirmed the dog was a male pit bull but said she was unable to determine the identity of its owner. The dog was caged in the back of her truck shortly after 3 p.m. Thursday, ready to be taken to the animal shelter. She said it would be temporarily quarantined.
"Four people got tore up pretty bad," Williams said. "This is what gives (pit bulls) a bad name. They're nice dogs - I probably pick up seven a week. But these one or two instances a year are what ruins them."
Although she did not know what prompted the animal to become aggressive, Williams said the attack must have been vicious. She said she based that on the number of victims and the large amount of blood she had seen inside the home and on the injured people.
The next step, Williams said, is to determine who owns the dog and to "go from there."