Owner of aggressive dog responds after dog bites three, is shot by deputy

Chivon Winter and Saul
Chivon Winter and Saul

A woman who adopted a dog known to be aggressive said the dog “showed absolutely no signs except for incredible progress” before he became violent Sunday, attacking her, another woman and a Union County sheriff’s deputy.

The deputy shot the dog and killed it.


Chivon Winter, a dog trainer and owner of Dual Purpose Dog Training, isn’t new to rehabilitating aggressive dogs. In fact, she’s successfully rehabilitated several, including one involved in a mauling.

None of them have ever turned on her, she said.

Winter said “anybody takes a risk when you’re dealing with an aggressive dog,” but after this incident, she said she will no longer work with aggressive dogs.

Winter obtained the dog, whom was initially named Paul, from the Rowan County Animal Control. The stray dog had no owner and was taken to the shelter after exhibiting aggressive behavior. Winter eventually renamed the dog, Saul.

Winter took Saul to Crossing Paths Park in downtown Indian Trail on Sunday for a socialization exercise.

There were no red flags in Saul’s behavior both Sunday and in numerous training scenarios, Winter said.

Saul was “like butter” that day, Winter said, adding that he would lie down for belly rubs and was “responding beautifully” to obedience commands.

In a post on the Facebook group page “Paul — the dog that got a second chance,” Winter invited followers of the social networking page to join her.

Although the post was on a public page, Winter said, the people in the group knew Saul’s story and knew about his past aggressive tendencies.

Three people showed up, all of whom had experience working with dogs.

“They made an adult decision to come,” she said.

When Winter arrived, she said she walked Saul around the park for several minutes, helping him adjust to his new environment.

“There was not one sign of insecurity,” she said.

Although Winter put several safeguards in place including ensuring there were no children or other dogs around, and no one else was at the park, Saul still bit someone. Authorities say that someone was 34-year-old Tiffany Laney. Winter would only say Laney is a “professional in the canine industry” and was one of the volunteers who came along to work with Saul.

Attack

“She knew exactly how to handle it,” Winter said, adding that Laney wasn’t leaning in and didn’t provoke Saul before the attack.

Laney was bitten in the face and Winter’s hands and arm were injured as she tried to restrain Saul.

“I did exactly what I was trained to do,” she said.

She has a number of dog training certifications, including K9 Training & Behavior Specialist and K9 Training Specialist from Triple Crown Academy.

The Union County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call about a dog bite. An officer saw a woman on the ground who had been bitten on the face, said Capt. Macky Goodman.

Goodman said when the first officer arrived Winter was holding the dog on the ground. Goodman said the first officer was performing first aid on Laney and then called for assistance.

An officer who was at the sheriff’s substation across the street from the park heard the call for help and grabbed a catch pole.

He got the catch pole around the dog’s neck, but was unable to maintain control of the dog. Saul bit the officer, clamping down on the his boot around the ankle, but the officer was not injured.

The officer drew his firearm and fired two rounds, striking the dog, Goodman said.

Goodman added the case remains active and no charges have been filed.

“We don’t know if there will be any charges. We are still looking at a few things,” he said.

Rowan Animal Control

Rowan County Animal Control officer Ashley Hassard picked up a trap Feb. 17 that was set for the young dog near a home in East Spencer. According to Rowan County Health Department records, Hassard said the dog was “aggressive” and “unsocialized” and it was trapped as a result of a Feb. 15 call to 911.

A week later, the dog bit Rowan County Sheriff’s Deputy Billy Basinger on both wrists, according to a report that said Basinger “went to put leash on dog and it bit.”

The dog was placed in the required 10-day quarantine for observation of rabies.

According to a form issued by the shelter for owners who relinquish custody of their animals, it says no animal shall be offered that has bitten a human. The dog was then expected to be euthanized because of its aggression and because it had no known owner.

However, the dog was allowed to be adopted by Winter, who paid the required $70 adoption fee. The dog was vaccinated March 27 and was scheduled to be neutered April 28, records show. On March 28, the dog was released to Winter.

Animal Control Supervisor Clai Martin did not immediately respond to repeated attempts by the Post to reach him.

Contract Agreement

The county had Winter sign a “Consent for Release and Indemnity Agreement” that says the county was concerned about the dog’s temperament and he would only be released to an “experienced trainer under certain conditions.”

The agreement includes several requirements Winter had to adhere to in order to be able to adopt Saul, including how he was to be kept while in public and at her Indian Trail training facility.

The requirements specify when the dog was outside, he is to be housed in a chain-link or privacy fence that is a minimum of 10 feet by 10 feet, six feet tall and secured with a padlock. The fence had to have at least four beware of dog signs posted. The dog was not allowed to run at large or in any way leave the property unless under restraint. He was to be placed in a secure kennel inside Winter’s training facility, if left unattended. If Saul left Winter’s property he would have to be muzzled, unless the dog’s successful rehabilitation necessitated removal.

The dog was also to have a microchip implanted by a licensed veterinanarian and registered to Winter.

Winter also signed a nondisclosure agreement forbidding her or the county to speak to the media about the terms of the agreement. She could, according to the agreement, speak about the dog’s situation, how he came into her care and how he was trained.

The agreement also says the county is not responsible for any costs, claims, charges or personal injuries that might occur upon Saul’s release from the county.

The dog could be adopted by Winter if he was with her for a minimum of three months from the date of his arrival. The agreement says three months is the longest time it has taken Winter to rehabilitate a dog with a bite record. The dog also would be evaluated through temperament testing and rigorous training by Winter. Saul could also not be adopted by someone else until his behavioral issues were corrected. Saul could not be adopted by someone with children younger than 16 years old.

Both Winter and County Manager Gary Page signed the agreement. Page did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


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