Slew of dog attacks sparks plea from police, victims

Posted at 6:32 PM, May 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-31 20:01:43-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Following the Friday death of an infant, police suspect of dog bites suffered while the child was left unattended at home, two more instances involving children and dogs now have police pleading with owners to take precaution.

One instance took place on Brown Street on Sunday. While in their mother’s arms, an infant child was bit by the family’s German Shepard after the dog broke loose from its enclosure. That child will be okay and suffered minor injuries under their arm.

Just hours later, toddler Ella Wheeler was in the front of a double stroller, walking along Oakdale Street SE with her mother, father and sister when a pit bull slid out from beneath a fence and bit the young girl.

Ella suffered a bite mark on her face and lip before her father stepped in to restrain the dog.

“Literally split second,” Ella’s mother Laurel Hartness said of the attack. “No provoking or anything. It just happened.”

In light of the recent attacks, Grand Rapids Police are throwing out a warning to dog owners.

“This is an urgent plea to dog owners within Grand Rapids, or anywhere, to please properly secure your pets,” said GRPD spokesman Sgt. Terry Dixon. “Not all restraint systems are equally the same and we’re moving into the summer months, there is more activity outdoors, there’s people walking on sidewalks, there’s kids playing, and we want to make sure the dogs are properly secured.”

“Just take responsibility for your animal,” said Hartness. “Making sure your dog is absolutely secure in your yard will not only save your animal from going through this, but it’ll save a little kid from going through this.”

All three dogs involved in the instances this weekend have been quarantined, either at home or at the Kent County Animal Shelter, who will ultimately decide what happens to the animals.

No word on charges being issued against the parents of that three-week-old infant. The prosecutor’s office will make that decision once the investigation is wrapped up.