Woman fined $200 after dogs maul boy, 4
By Newsday Staff Saturday, June 2 2012
IN finding her guilty of failing to muzzle two vicious dogs who mauled four-year-old Ezekiel Renne-Cambridge, a magistrate yesterday told Vidya Emrith she ought not to return the dogs to her home in Palmiste, San Fernando where the attack took place last year.
Magistrate Alicia Chankar advised Emrith, 57, to heed the pending enactment of the amended Dangerous Dogs Act which takes effect on August 1.
Chankar, presiding in the San Fernando Magistrates’ Court, imposed the maximum fine of $200 on Emrith, a businesswoman of Palmiste. The new law imposes stiffer penalties but is only applicable to pitbulls, Japanese Tosa and Fila Brasileiro breeds. There are calls for the law to be reviewed to include all dangerous dogs.
Chankar told Emrith she had came perilously close to being charged with contempt for failing to disclose to the court where her German Shepherd mixed Akita, and pure-bred German Shepherd dogs were being kept.
On April 12, 2011, the dogs ran out of Emrith’s yard at Cinnamon Court, Palmiste, and attacked Ezekiel on Chrisse Street. So bad were the injuries, the boy spent several months at San Fernando General Hospital.
The dogs bit Ezekiel on his back, hands and thighs so viciously, Chankar commented, that the boy would not be able to engage in activities as most boys his age do.
The police led evidence that when they went to Emrith’s home on April 13 and asked where the two dogs were, she refused, but replied, “I would die for my dogs.”
Emrith was charged by Cpl Kelvin Samarroo with permitting the dogs to go at large without a muzzle contrary to Section 16 of the Dangerous Dogs Act.
A trial was conducted in which Samaroo testified that when he visited Emrith at her home, the dogs were not at the house and a police photographer was unable to obtain photographs. Emrith refused to reveal where they dogs were sent.
Ezekiel’s grandmother, Yolande Renne, also testified and described the dog attack. She wept when she spoke about how the larger German Shepherd kept biting her grandson though she kept hitting the dog on its legs.
Emrith defended the charge and denied her dogs were vicious, but admitted they had attacked two people before Ezekiel and one of them was a boy. The same dogs killed another dog in the neighbourhood.
Corporal Russell Ramoutar, who prosecuted the case, asked Emrith to tell the court where the dogs were kept, and she refused to answer at first. Pressed by the magistrate to answer, Emrith said they were being kept at a home for animals. She told the court she could not reveal its location.
In her ruling, Chankar said it was not about who physically let the dogs out, but why, after two previous attacks, the dogs were not muzzled.
Chankar said, “I find you guilty Ms Emrith, for failing to muzzle those dogs. If, after the previous incidents, the dogs were muzzled, this would not have happened to young Cambridge. I did not want the grandmother to go through the trauma of revealing the injuries listed in the medical certificate, but young Cambridge, though back to school, cannot engage in activities boys his age would engage in.”
After Emrith’s attorney Azeem Mohammed pleaded for leniency, Ramoutar told Chankar his only concern was whether the businesswoman had gotten rid of the dogs.
“What guarantee (do) we have that Ms Emrith would not collect the dogs and bring them back?” Ramoutar asked the court.
Chankar said while she did not have the authority to order Emrith to disclose where the dogs were, she hoped Emrith would not retrieve the dogs and take them back to her home.
“I hope you will keep in mind the new Dog Act that is on the way, and that you feel a sense of responsibility as a dog owner, to take precaution.” Chankar then called Renne who was sitting in court. The magistrate expressed the court’s sympathy for Ezekiel’s injuries. She asked Renne if she had anything to say and the woman replied, “I would not like to see those dogs back. My grandson was attacked from behind. People in the area do not want those dogs back again.”
Emrith apologised to Renne and said, “I want you to know that I cared for your grandson, more than I was concerned for the dogs.”
Chankar, in ordering Emrith to pay the fine forthwith, commented that it would take time before Ezekiel is healed of the wounds.
“As a mother myself,” Chankar added. “I feel great sympathy for this child, because he is deprived of what a normal five-year-old child would engage in.”Ezekiel’s relatives expressed relief that the trial was over.
“It’s like a huge burden off our shoulders, as all the time we had the impression that the dogs were more important,” said a relative, who did not want to be named.
Relatives called Ezekiel a “walking miracle.”
“You ever see a dog run over by a vehicle, Ezekiel was looking just like that. His intestines were ripped out, his bladder hanging out.
When you look at his back a hunk of tissue was outside, the doctor told us he was bitten just a fraction away from his spinal cord. One bite narrowly missed his navel. His hands, his face, his neck, all over his body. I prayed that his eyes weren’t damaged,” a relative recalled.
Ezekiel spent more than two months in and out of the San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH) and last July he travelled to Miami for further treatment. He is expected to return to Miami in August for more tests.
“We know God brought him from very very far and today we pray for inner healing because we don’t know how long it will take before he is completely healed.”
With the Dangerous Dogs Act now under review, relatives expressed the view that heavy fines should be imposed on irresponsible dog owners.