A judge in a small New Jersey town yesterday ruled that the Rhodesian ridgeback who bit off a 3-year-old girl’s ear last year was not vicious.
The girl, Claire McVeigh, has undergone multiple operations to reattach her ear, and still suffers from pain, her parents told the judge.
The attack occurred at the home of Robert Taffet, a surgeon who owns four prize Rhodies, one of whom was involved in a series of previous attacks, according to the Philadephia Inquirer. The girl was paying a social visit with her mother and sibling to see some new pups and a goat. Neither the Inquirer story nor one in the Philadelphia Daily News went into details of the attack.
Pilesgrove, N.J., Municipal Judge Nicholas Lacovara noted that while Claire endured a significant injury, it was a “minor attack.”
“Duke nipped the ear, and as the child fell, it made the injury much worse,” the judge said. “Had he been vicious, God forbid, the child might not have survived. Duke is a very large dog.”
While Lacovara declared Duke “potentially dangerous,” requiring him to be in an enclosure at home, and muzzled in public, he spared the dog the death sentence. It was the same sentence Taffet’s other dog received for his attacks in 2002.
The girl’s parents, Cindi and Dennis McVeigh, were shocked by the two-day trial’s outcome.
“I don’t see how anyone can see the result of this and call it this a minor incident,” Dennis said in the Inquirer. “We really don’t want to see this happen to anyone else.”
The Philadelphia Daily News described the parents’ disbelief and dismay at the ruling. Cindi started sobbing, Dennis was stunned. ” ‘It’s crazy. It’s crazy,’ Dennis said after the hearing, his voice raw with emotion,” the article reported.
Taffet’s lawyer said he will discuss the possibility of appealing the judge’s decision with his client.
Dogsters – I’m very interested in your thoughts on this, even though we don’t have all the details of the attack. Do you think the judge’s ruling was fair?