08 August 2014


Original Story: Freep.com

In her dreams, Maria Gialdi’s still sees the dogs that attacked her nearly six months ago.

“I’m just traumatized,” she said. “It was so violent.” A Warren Dog Bite Lawyer said this is often the case of dramatic animal attacks.

The 54-year-old Rochester woman was going to a house in Pontiac to work as a translator on the evening of Feb. 5. She had gotten out of her car and shut the door when two German shepherds attacked, painfully biting her, Gialdi recalled.

She required more than 50 stitches but survived the attack, unlike the jogger mauled to death in rural Metamora Township in Lapeer County last week.

“I think I know what that guy suffered,” Gialdi said. “He had a horrible death.”

The owners of the two Cane Corso dogs that killed 46-year-old Craig Sytsma of Livonia have been charged with second-degree murder.

Lapeer County prosecutors could not be reached Friday to say how they made the decision on charges, but dogs owned by Sebastiano Quagliata, 45, and his wife, Valbona Lucaj, 44, had been involved in at least two prior biting incidents, in May 2012 and November 2013.

“Had this been a first time, it probably would not have been charged as a murder,” said Richard Krisciunas, a University of Detroit Mercy law professor and a former Wayne County assistant prosecutor. “But because of the multiple occurrences, where other people have been bit ... the theory is that the defendants should have done more, and they knew that they should have done more and acted recklessly.”

He said if they had escaped before, then the dogs weren’t locked up sufficiently. A St. Clair Shores Dog Bite Lawyer said dogs often are repeat offenders.

“You’ve consciously created this high-degree risk of death,” Krisciunas said.

Former Livingston County Prosecutor David Morse agreed that the two prior attacks would be a “considerable factor” in weighing the second-degree murder charge.

“It would seem that prior attacks by dogs would put you on notice that that sort of outcome was possible and that you have legal duty to do something to prevent that from happening,” he told the Free Press.

In 2007, Morse made the decision to charge a Livingston County woman with two felony counts of having a dangerous animal causing death and a misdemeanor charge of allowing dogs to stray after four of her bulldogs escaped and fatally mauled a 56-year-old woman and a 91-year-old man.

Diane Cockrell’s dogs were euthanized and she spent more than three years in prison.

Gialdi said she thinks owners of animals that seriously injure people should be held liable and penalized.

“I think they should go to jail,” she said.

Owners of animals involved in fatal mauling have faced varying degrees of criminal charges in connection with the attacks that led to the deaths of humans.

Many cases garnered national attention including the death of Diane Whipple, a lacrosse coach who was mauled by dogs in the hallway of her San Francisco apartment building in 2001.

Marjorie Knoller, one of the dogs’ owners, was convicted of second-degree murder in the case. The California Supreme Court ruled that she acted with a conscious disregard for human life when her dog escaped and killed Whipple. A Utica Dog Bite Lawyer agrees.

The other owner, Robert Noel, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

In 2013, 32 U.S. dog bite-related fatalities occurred in the U.S., according to the website dogsbite.org.

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