July 28, 2011

Man stabs pit bull during attack in Fort Worth park

Investigators are trying to determine if one of the dogs has attacked people before.

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FORT WORTH -- A 24-year-old man walking with his pregnant wife and 6-month-old son near Lake Como Park on Thursday afternoon drove off two pit bulls, stabbing one as it gripped his arm.

Gary Latimer had to get five stitches to close the wound in his arm, said his wife, Alisa Latimer.

One of the dogs is believed to be Mimi, a pit bull that was in the news last year when a municipal court judge declared her dangerous after an attack on an 84-year-old man. Her owner, Steven Woods, complied with a court order that saved Mimi from being euthanized.

Animal control officers and police are investigating the attack on the Latimers, said Brandon Bennett, Fort Worth code compliance director.

The dog that was stabbed was taken to an animal hospital, and the other dog was taken to the city animal shelter, Bennett said.

Both will be observed for rabies, he said.

Woods told officials that both dogs were his, Bennett said.

"We believe that one of the dogs was Mimi," he said.

Woods could not be reached to comment Thursday evening.

Alisa Latimer said she and her husband were walking toward a bus stop in the 5000 block of Wellesley Avenue about 5 p.m., pushing their son in his stroller, when the dogs ran toward them.

The male pit bull seemed to be the most aggressive, Latimer said. They began circling the couple and snapping at them while Gary Latimer reached for a knife from the bottom of the stroller, Latimer said.

"My husband told me to run, but I didn't want to run because I was pregnant, so I walked real fast going one way and he ran the other way," she said.

Both dogs followed her husband, who turned toward the dogs and began swinging his knife wildly. The female retreated, Alisa Latimer said. But the male dog attacked and locked onto her husband's arm between the shoulder and the elbow.

The dog let go after being stabbed, and both animals ran away, Latimer said.

"I'm just glad I wasn't by myself," she said.

Bennett said code compliance and police investigators will meet Friday and determine what the next steps in the investigation.

"If this turns out to be Mimi and it turns out she was involved in the attack, this could potentially be a felony," Bennett said. "But that does not matter. We will pursue all dog attacks to the fullest extent of the law."

From April to June 2010, Woods was cited three times because of his dogs, the city said. In one case, a 64-year-old woman was attacked and seriously injured by four pit bulls.

After the attack on the 84-year-old man in July, Woods was brought to trial. The judge ruled Mimi dangerous. With help from a Hurst attorney, Woods quickly raised more than $17,000 through appeals on the Internet, claiming that the animal was a therapy dog helping Woods overcome injuries suffered in Iraq.

Later it was learned that Woods misrepresented his military record.

The city received hundreds of e-mails and calls about the case.

This includes material from Star-Telegram archives.

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752

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