Luke Meyer heard the call come in, on his day off, around 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Multiple people bitten by a large pit bull.
“I got there super fast,” said Meyer, the animal control officer for the city of St. Ann, Missouri, in suburban St. Louis.
What happened before he got there, he said, was so “absolutely horrific” it quickly drew multiple police officers and EMTs, even the chief of police, to the scene.
A 100-pound pit bull mauled a 9-year-old girl on a bicycle. The dog attacked the ice cream man who rushed to save her, and a neighbor with a baseball bat whacked the dog to stop the attack.
Meyer knew the dog. His name is Capone, and how he faces euthanasia for what he did.
A child in the house where Capone lives opened the front door, and the dog ran out, Meyer said.
“The pit bull ran toward a group of kids a couple of houses up that were outside playing,” he told McClatchy. When the kids saw the dog charging, they took off running.
One girl, though, “jumped on her bike and tried to flee,” he said. “The 100-pound pit bull chased her down, latched on to her arm, was able to pull her down off the bike and then chewed up her ear, her hand, her leg and her rear.”
An ice cream man who happened to be driving by saw the dog biting the girl.
“He jumped out and tried to pull the pit bull off of her. And his hand, or both hands, were chewed up. He had lacerations ... a lot of blood from that,” he said.
Still in attack mode, Capone turned his attention back to his first victim “and was apparently going to go back for the little girl,” he said.
A neighbor grabbed a baseball bat, hit the dog, yelled at him, and then Capone high-tailed it home.
According to KSDK, the little girl’s mom said the dog bit her daughter six times. Police told the TV station the girl and the ice cream man were treated at the hospital for their injuries. The girl will need plastic surgery for some of her wounds, Fox 2 in St. Louis reported.
The Fox station reported there were 12 dogs living in the house.
Neighbor Christy Seal, who is a dog trainer, told KSDK she’s had run-ins with some of the dogs before and wasn’t surprised by Sunday’s attack. “It got to the point that they were coming at me, like barking at me in my own yard,” she said.
In his two years with animal control, Meyer said he has handled a couple of complaints about Capone, but they were handled quickly by the owner. In one instance, Capone was trying to dig under the neighbor’s privacy fence; Meyer advised the owner to install chicken wire to stop the digging.
And, this year Capone chased a mail carrier who had to use his heavy mail bag to thwart an attack. The carrier wasn’t bitten, Meyer said.
After Sunday’s attack Capone’s owners face several charges — animal creating a nuisance, failure to register the dog with the city and breeding dogs within the city for commercial purposes among them, Meyer said. The most serious is endangering the welfare of a child, he said.
Capone’s home life was rough., Meyer said. “A lot of dogs and a lot of people packed in a small home,” said Meyer. “The dogs were kept in a small room inside small cages. The male and female were not fixed, and they were kept for breeding purposes.”
When he interviewed children living in the home Meyer saw no signs that the pit bull had been trained to fight or be aggressive,
“I think with this pit bull it’s just very large, it’s 100 pounds, it’s the alpha male, it’s aggressive, it’s not fixed,” he said.
“It’s just one of those situations that ... the animal itself is just a big aggressive animal that loves to hunt and loves to fight, likes to be aggressive.”
Capone’s fate now lies in the hands of Meyer and other members of the animal control department’s board — including the police chief — who will consider his past history and acts.
The choices: “Euthanizing the animal or trying to find some rescue out in the middle of nowhere, hours away from here, maybe in the middle of Missouri, southern Missouri, where this dog can get some help, can be rehabilitated,” Meyer said.
“I think this huge dog was already aggressive by nature, and then you have a bad situation where you’re cooped up all the time and didn’t have much freedom. And as soon as he had freedom he moved on and he was off to the races.”
Meyer credited the ice cream man and the neighbor with the bat for saving the little girl.
“The ice cream driver, who could have just made a call and sat still. He immediately jumps out and tries to stop the attack and save the day. He is a hero, no doubt,” he said.
“And when the other resident saw that the attack was still going on, rather than go inside or do nothing, he immediately jumped into action, grabbed a bat, hit the dog, yelled at the dog ... those two guys did an outstanding job.”