Car-eating dog to go to court

An owner of the dog that attacked four cars -- including two police vehicles -- on Sunday says she doesn't blame police officers for using pepper spray and a Taser in attempts to subdue the animal.

"I cannot believe they didn't shoot him," said Nancy Emerling, one of the dog's owners. "I think that the officers showed amazing restraint. They could not have been nicer."

Ms. Emerling said that before Sunday her dog Winston, a mixed pit bull breed, never has been aggressive toward anything other than lawn equipment. But on that day, Winston attacked two police vehicles -- chewing the tires and tearing the bumper off one -- and two other vehicles after he found his way out of the two fences he was kept behind.

An officer was running radar in a parking lot next to Mann's Welding Co. on Workman Road when the attack began. Ms. Emerling said she thinks either the blue police lights or possibly the sound of the radar gun triggered the nearly 3-year-old dog.

"He has never shown aggression toward people," she said. "He's very sweet, very good natured."

An officer from McKamey Animal Center eventually was able to capture Winston by using a pole. The dog now is in McKamey's Safe Harbor, where animals involved in bite cases and other legal cases are held, said Karen Walsh, the center's executive director.

"This is our first dog attacking a car, doing this kind of damage," she said.

Ms. Emerling was given a citation for Winston being a "potentially dangerous dog," Ms. Walsh said, and the case will go before City Court Judge Sherry Paty, who hears all the local animal cases, on March 25. Ms. Walsh said it will be up to the judge to determine what happens to Winston.

Since the dog has been under McKamey's watch, he has not shown any signs of aggression, Ms. Walsh said.

"He has not been throwing himself at the bars or any of the things that some of the dogs do," she said. "But he's not on trial for being aggressive toward people. He's on trial for what happened that day."