The owner of a pit bull terrier that mauled a Los Angeles animal control officer investigating the dog's previous attack on a man and his young daughter was arrested Thursday on seven misdemeanor counts.
"I feel terrible that my dog bit people," said Edlyn Joy Hauser, 37, as she was led from her Glassell Park home by Los Angeles police and city Department of Animal Regulation investigators, "but it wasn't my fault. I didn't want the dog to bite anybody."
Deputy City Atty. Alice Hand said a male friend of Hauser was convicted of a felony for using the same pit bull to attack two men last year. Hand also said that former neighbors of Hauser on Gramercy Place in Hollywood signed a petition to have something done about the dog, Benjamin, after he allegedly attacked two other pet dogs, killing one of them.
Neighbor, Child Attacked
Warren Volpe, 43, Hauser's duplex neighbor and landlord who with his 7-year-old daughter, Brisa, was attacked by the 55-pound pit bull Sunday night, videotaped the arrest. He said he wanted to be able to show it to his daughter when she is older.
Volpe was angry that Hauser was not charged by the city attorney's office with more serious crimes. "She's released a weapon on myself, my child and an official of the city," he said. "And all you get is a misdemeanor. My God! This is not an innocent person. This is a psychopath."
Volpe, whose face and hands still bore cuts and whose arm was bandaged, told reporters that his daughter required 50 stitches after the attack.
Animal control officer Florence Crowell, 33, remained in Glendale Memorial Hospital, where a spokeswoman said she was in "good condition" and was resting comfortably after the vicious attack on her by the dog when she went to the Roderick Place address in Glassell Park on Monday morning to investigate the previous night's biting.
The pit bull was still in a city Department of Animal Regulation shelter cage Thursday, awaiting disposition of Hauser's case.
City attorney's office spokesman Mike Qualls said Hauser was taken to Northeast Division police station to be booked on three counts of assault with a deadly weapon (the dog), two counts of failure to exercise reasonable care with a dangerous dog trained to attack, and one count each of having a vicious dog on private premises and permitting a dangerous animal to be at large. Bail was set at $5,000.
She remained in Sybil Brand Institute late Thursday night.
Qualls said each of the state Penal Code counts carries a possible penalty of one year in jail and/or a $10,000 fine, while each of the other charges, under the Los Angeles Municipal Code, carries a possible penalty of six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
Although Hauser insisted that she had not intended for the dog to go after animal control officer Crowell on Monday morning, a KCBS television crew videotaped the scene, which was aired repeatedly that evening. It showed Hauser calling to Crowell:
"Benjamin is coming out. So if you don't want to get bitten, you better get out of here."
Moments later, the pit bull charged out of the doorway and lunged at Crowell, severely injuring her hand and biting her in the chest until a neighbor beat him enough to make him stop.
As she was arrested on Thursday, Hauser appeared surprised and flustered. She wept a little and told the officers she wanted to talk to her attorney.