HOLLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — An 11-year-old boy is being called a hero after he jumped into action when he saw a dog biting his sister’s young friend.
“Dominic saved my granddaughter. He’s a blessing,” said Kerri Lyttaker, whose grandchild, Allison, was severely bitten Wednesday afternoon.
It happened around 5:30 pm inside Leisure Estates Mobile Home Park off Butternut Drive in Holland Township.
Dominic Morales was playing in an inflatable pool with his sisters and their friend, Allison, 9, when a neighbor’s dog showed up in the yard.
Draco, described as a pit bull, lived in a home right across the street from Dominic, who said the dog often wandered loose.
“Draco came over,” Dominic told News 8 on Friday. “He was chill at first. He jumped into the pool, and then he got out.”
That’s when 9-year-old Allison tried to shoo the dog away.
“Allison got out (of the pool), walked up to (the dog) and told him to go home. When she came back, she kind of like slipped and fell, and then Draco ran up to her and started to bite her.”
Dominic said he doesn’t recall considering what to do before he sprang into action.
“I pulled him off of her, and then she was able to get away. Then, he started to bite me.”
Another child ran to get Dominic’s stepmom, Jessica Gamboa, who was able to coax the dog away from Dominic before grabbing it by the collar.
“I seen Draco latched on to Dominic’s arm,” recalled Gamboa, “and then I looked at his leg. He was bleeding. I seen the puncture wounds.”
Dominic needed 21 stitches to close the injuries to his thigh and forearm.
“I JUST SEEN BLOOD ALL OVER”— Dominic, 11
Allison’s wounds were more severe.
“It looked like a big gash,” said Dominic, describing what happened to Allison’s cheek and eye. “I seen just blood all over. She couldn’t open her eye.”
Kerri Lyttaker said doctors told her if Dominic hadn’t intervened, her granddaughter may have lost her ear, or perhaps even her life.
“She’s got well over a hundred stitches. The doctor said he quit counting,” recalled Lyttaker.
“She’s got a very small piece of skin right here by her ear that’s still there. Then, she had a great big gouge (on her cheek). The doctor had to pull it and stitch it, seriously.”
Lyttaker said the extent of the damage to Allison’s eye is not yet clear.
Both Lyttaker and Gamboa said the mobile home park has received complaints about Draco running loose previously. They also noted the park had forced other residents to get rid of aggressive dogs or leave the park.
“Everybody else got rid of their dogs or had to move,” recalled Gamboa. “But nothing was done with that dog, and they’ve had complaints.”
The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department told News 8 it’s not releasing the identity of the dog’s owner “at this point.”
Gamboa even snapped a picture of Draco on her porch last December before sending it, along with her complaint, to Leisure Estates management.
“HE KEEPS GETTING LOOSE”— Jessica Gamboa, Dominic’s stepmom
“I called (Leisure Estates) to make a report that his dog isn’t on the leash,” recalled Gamboa, “He keeps getting loose. There’s kids that get off the bus. He’s a big dog. Anything can happen to these kids.”
Lyttaker said the dog was usually stuck on the owner’s small, gated front porch or chained up in the yard.
“Why have a dog if you’re not going to take care of it?” said Lyttaker.
News 8 knocked on the owner’s door, but no one answered.
Gamboa said the dog’s owner and his family packed up and left their trailer shortly after the incident.
“They’re cowards. All they could say was ‘sorry.’ That’s all they could say. They were told to keep that dog on a leash with somebody present. They failed to do that,” said Gamboa.
Before he left, the owner relinquished the dog to Ottawa County Animal Control.
A neighbor shot video Wednesday night of the owner carrying the dog out to the animal control vehicle.
“LOCK THAT DOG UP”
“Lock that dog up,” the person recording the video can be heard saying.
The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office says it’s investigating and will work with the prosecutor to determine what criminal charges the dog’s owner may face.
“The dog has been seized by Ottawa County Animal Control Deputies and is in confinement pending Court Proceedings,” wrote Captain Jake Sparks in an email to News 8.
News 8 stopped at Leisure Estates’ office Friday and asked the manager on site how it responded to prior complaints about the dog.
The park later sent a statement by email but failed to answer that specific question.
“Please be advised that the Ottawa County Animal Control has removed the dog in question, and it will not be allowed back into the Community,” wrote Jason O’Dell, regional manager for Leisure Estates/Village Manufactured Home Community.
“In addition, we have taken legal action against the residents who are responsible for the dog. Pursuant to our Community Guidelines ‘All animals must be kept inside the home and when outside, they must be kept on a handheld leash which confines movement to the Homesite. Animals may not be left outside unattended and must immediately be brought into the home if the animal becomes disruptive and disturbing to others. Animals that run at large may be picked up by the Animal Control Department, and Resident will not be permitted to bring another animal into the Community,'” the statement concluded.
The victims’ families said they hold the owners and the park accountable, not the dog.
“The owners didn’t deserve that dog. The dog deserved better. We don’t blame the dog. We blame the owners,” said Jessica Gamboa, Dominic’s stepmom.
“We’re pushing forward for justice for Domnic and Allison. It’s not fair to them. She didn’t deserve this. She’s only nine. She still has a whole future ahead of her. Same thing with Dominic. He’s 11.”