Dog that killed jogger attacked in past

A 3-year-year Cane Corsos held at the Lapeer County Animal Shelter. The dog is one of two dogs that mauled a 46-year-old man to death Wednesday, July 23. (Lapeer County Animal Control photo)
This 3-year-year Cane Corso is being quarantined at the Lapeer County Animal Shelter. The dog is one of two that mauled a 46-year-old man to death near Livonia, Mich., Wednesday, July 23. (Lapeer County Animal Control photo)

By Jim Hagerty
Staff Writer

A dog that mauled a Michigan man to death earlier this week was involved in a similar attack two years ago, sparking a debate whether the animal should have been put down then.

April Smith, of Oxford, Mich., said she became physically ill after hearing that two Cane Corsos attacked and killed 46-year-old Craig Sytsma, of Livonia, Wednesday night as he jogged down a rural road. She became even sicker when she learned one of the dogs was the animal that attacked her in 2012, sparking a lawsuit against the its 45-year-old owner.

“It’s just crazy to me,” Smith, 25, told USA TODAY. “Animal control should have done something. It should have never gone this far.” “When I was attacked, I didn’t even see it running up to us until it was directly behind me with its teeth out and growling viciously. We were about three houses past the yard the dog lives in, so he ran 50 yards to catch up to us. He tore my leg in three different places and I had to get medical attention. There was a lot of bloodshed and it was very severe. I had bruising for months and had to endure physical therapy.”

Sytsma, of Livonia was jogging in Metamora Township home when he was attacked near the dogs’ home. A neighbor witnessed the attack and fired a shot at the dogs. It was too late to save Sytsma, however.

Police say no charges have been filed Sytsma’s attack. The dogs are quarantined at the Lapeer County Animal Shelter pending an investigation. Officials say if the owner relinquishes the 3-year-old animals, they would likely be destroyed. Even if the dogs are put down, it may not close the door on criminal charges.

According to Michigan law, an owner of a dog who kills a human can be charged with manslaughter. As of this report, Sytsma’s death is being investigated by the Lapeer County Prosecutor’s Office.

About Cane Corsos

A Cane Corso is an Italian breed, known for its strong, muscular stature and athletic ability to hunt and attack. A close relative of the Neapolitan Mastiff, the Cane Corso is also known for being unpredictable around strangers. Owners are encouraged to begin socializing the dogs when they are puppies. Dogs not properly socialized can be aggressive toward people. For this reason, experts do not recommend the breed to novice dog owners. The average Cane Corso weighs between 100 and 110 pounds and typically stand 23 1/2 to 27 1/2 inches at the shoulder.

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