Rabies tests are negative for one of the two boxers that severely mauled a man and killed his Yorkshire terrier Monday, March 26, in Lebanon’s Memorial Park.
“We got official word today the dog did not have rabies,” Lebanon Police Lt. Brent Wheat said Friday afternoon, March 30. The second dog remains in quarantine at a local veterinarian’s office, Wheat said.
Victim Joseph Stapleton, 71, Lebanon, “is very sore, but we do not believe he has any permanent disabilities,” Wheat said. Stapleton was treated at Witham Memorial Hospital for what Wheat’s incident report described as “multiple bite wounds to all his extremities” after the 9:10 a.m. attack.
Stapleton is recovering at home.
Wheat’s report describes a frightening and gruesome scene.
Stapleton was walking “Tugsy,” a Yorkie he and his wife had owned for several years, on the north side of Memorial Park, west of the Ulen Country Club driving range, when two boxers that had bolted from their home in the 1200 block of North Grant Street attacked him.
“I found (Stapleton) standing up and leaning on a split rail fence,” Wheat’s report said. “I could see that his legs were covered in blood” from “both punctures and lacerations where it appeared the dogs chewed on the victim.”
The boxers tore Tugsy from Stapleton’s arms and killed the terrier; they then knocked Stapleton to the ground. “He fought back, kicking the dogs with his feet until they broke off the attack,” Wheat’s report said. The dogs remained near Stapleton. In an interview Monday, Wheat said had Stapleton not fought them off, the dogs would have killed him.
Two women, one of whom had called 911, were in the area when officers arrived, Wheat said. Wheat was forced to shoot one of the boxers dead when it ran at him. The report said the dog was within two feet of the officer when he fired.
Bryan K. Huntsman, age and address unknown, was watching the dogs for their owner, Brian Lesser. He had let them out of their crates, but they escaped his control. “At the time of the attack, Huntsman had been actively searching for the dogs,” Wheat’s report said.
Lesser told LPD Capt. Chad Morgan and Officer T. J. Nelson “that the dogs were not current on their rabies immunizations and had not been vaccinated for several years,” Wheat’s report said.
Based on Wheat’s report, Boone County Prosecutor Todd Meyer has charged Lesser with two class C misdemeanor counts of harboring an unimmunized dog. Lesser has been ordered to appear at a 2 p.m. Wednesday, April 18, initial hearing in Boone Circuit Court. A C misdemeanor sentence is from none to 180 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.