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Single mom asks public for support after dog bites alleged home intruder

Dhicon_thumb By DogHeirs Team | October 08, 2012 | Comments (63)

Single mom asks public for support after dog defends home from alleged intruder
Carissa Curry says her loyal dog Duke is being unfairly labelled as a "dangerous dog" for defending their home from an intruder

If an intruder broke into your house while you were away, would you hope that your dog would defend your home? What would you do if you were then accused of being an irresponsible dog owner and charged with the crime of failing to confine your dog? Even worse, what if your loyal, protective dog was then labelled "dangerous"?

*** Find the latest updates at the bottom of this article ***

Single mom asks public for support after dog bites alleged home intruderA single mother of a 2-year-old boy named Kaleb and a 4.5-year-old American Bulldog mix named Duke, is at risk of losing everything she has because she says that this is exactly what happened to her while she was at work in Toledo, Ohio. Now, Carissa Curry is facing criminal charges and Duke has been labelled a "dangerous dog". 

Carissa is charged with a 4th degree misdemeanor, and if convicted, she faces a number of serious consequences including:

  • 30 days in jail
  • possibly losing her job as a healthcare worker
  • possibly losing her home, if the landlord chooses to not allow a "dangerous dog" on the premises
  • possibly getting sued by the man Duke bit
  • dangerous dog fees, including insurance that could cost $1,000 a year

Duke's label as a "dangerous dog" also impacts his happiness and quality of life, including:

  • possibly losing Carissa and Kaleb as the only family he has known
  • living in a fully fence yard that is enclosed at the top, making it a cage-like structure
  • being microchipped as a dangerous dog and labelled as dangerous, which will stay with him for the rest of his life. Should Duke ever get involved in another incident, the consequenses could be much more serious.
  • being muzzled anytime he steps outside of his yard
  • being publicly labelled as dangerous, as dangerous dog signs both words and pictures will be required to be posted in his yard


The Incident

Toledo Police received a 911 call at 11:30am on August 7 and arrived at the scene to find a man with a sizable puncture wound on his left thigh. According to the official police report, the man involved in the incident claimed that he was strolling down the sidewalk when Duke pushed open the gate to his fenced yard and attacked him. Duke was then seized by the Lucas County dog warden and quarantined for ten days. When Carissa returned home from work that day around 4pm, she was immediately alarmed when Duke wasn't there to greet her, as she entered her home through the back door. 

Single mom asks public for support after dog bites alleged home intruderShe searched the house and began to fear the worst. Carissa then noticed that her front door was ajar. Confused, she found a note pinned to the door from the Lucas County dog warden with a phone number to call. Toledo Police then received a second 911 call from Carissa herself, who was calling to report a B&E (Breaking and Entering).

Just after Carissa called the police, Bernadine (Bernie) Tammarine, the fiance of Carissa's next-door neighbor, approached her. Bernie had witnessed the events that day while Carissa was at work. Bernie relayed that she had even spoken to a police officer at the time of the incident, telling him that she had seen the man inside Carissa's yard before Duke had bitten him. 

In a written statement, Bernie claims that she saw the man walking quickly from the open driveway gates of Carissa's home to the opposite side of the street. She heard the man say that Duke had bitten him and when she asked him where he was bitten, the man responded by saying that Duke had followed him across the street to bite him. Bernie added that, "At no time did I ever see Duke leave the yard even as the gates were open....I never remembered hearing Duke bark until I went outside and noticed this man crossing the street. Duke still remained in his yard barking profusely at this man."

Bernie also states, "The police arrived and I expressed my concerns about Miss Curry's door being open, the way the man had crossed over and stated Duke had crossed to bite him when I never witnessed Duke ever cross the street. I did not actually see at any time Duke bite this man but I am certain Duke had remained in his yard."

As Carissa waited for police to respond to her 911 call, a second neighbor who lives across the street from Carissa, knocked on her door. Carissa says that he told her that he had also witnessed the incident and was so worried for Carissa that he had taken photographs of the man Duke had bitten to warn Carissa to be wary of him should their paths cross. He also told Carissa that he saw her leave that morning and, notably, that he saw her lock her gate behind her.

Police responded to Carissa's 911 call later that evening and even spoke to Bernie and Carissa's other neighbor. The police officers told Carissa that they could not charge the man of breaking and entering because the front door had not been locked, as Carissa had forgotten to lock it that morning. However, since the man was seen in her yard, they could charge him with tresspassing (two 'No tresspassing signs' are posted in her yard). But police also informed Carissa that it would be a very difficult case to win, as it would be the man's word against Carissa's neighbors. Despite the witness testimony gathered, no police report was filed.


Dangerous and guilty, until proven innocent

When Carissa spoke with the Lucas County dog warden, she discovered that she was being charged with "Failure to vaccinate" and "Failure to confine". Carissa insists that she is innocent of both charges and that Duke did nothing wrong. 

Carissa has proof that Duke was vaccinated for rabies, but when Duke was quarantined, she was given just two days to provide proof to the Lucas County dog warden - a deadline she wasn`t able to meet given the circumstances at that time. Regardless, Carissa says she accepts responsibility for not providing proof of vaccination before the deadline set by the Lucas County dog warden.

Single mom asks public for support after dog bites alleged home intruderAs for the "Failure to confine" charge, Carissa adamantly denies that Duke was loose that day. She says that Duke is a loving family member and her best friend, and that he is never left outside in her fenced yard when she is not at home. Carissa knew that she had forgotten to lock her front door on August 7, but she is certain that she not only closed the front door, with Duke securely inside the home, but that she also closed and "locked" the gate to her yard with a carabiner before she left to work. 

Carissa says that the only way that Duke could have escaped both the house and the yard would have been if a person had opened both the carabiner locking the gate and the door knob of her front door. Carissa suspects that the man tried to enter her home and startled Duke when he entered her home. Duke then chased the man out of the house.

When Carissa relayed her suspicions to the Lucas County dog warden on August 15, she was told that all charges against Carissa would be dropped if she could provide a copy of a police report stating the man was attempting to break into her home or that he was tresspassing. Unfortunately, that's when Carissa discovered that the police officers who responded to her 911 call and spoke to the witnesses, never filed a police report.

Carissa followed up with a visit to the police department in person the next day. The police took her statement and added it as a supplemental crime report to the original report. The original report indicates the man as a victim.

Carissa was then advised on follow-up procedures on how to file a police report herself, which she followed, until she was ultimately turned away by the prosecutor. The prosecutor told Carissa that she could not speak with her regarding the case because it would be unethical as she is the prosecutor representing the dog warden's office for the case against Carissa.


Flaws in the case against Duke and Carissa

Because the only witnesses to the actual dog bite were Duke and the man involved, only the word of the man has been used as evidence in the case against Carissa and Duke. There are several points of issue that beg for a deeper investigation of the incident, including:

  • Single mom asks public for support after dog defends home from alleged intruderConflicting accounts of the story given by the man. In the original police report dated August 7, 2012, the man stated that "he was strolling down the sidewalk when Duke pushed open the gate to his fenced yard and attacked him". However, during his testimony in court, he stated that the gates to Carissa's driveway were already open when he was bitten on the sidewalk in front of her home. In addition, neighbor Bernie Tammarine says that when she spoke to the man just after the incident, he told her that Duke had followed him across the street and had bitten him on the other side of the road.
    (Photo at right: The gate not only has locking carabiners but also metal poles that are anchored into the cement)
  • Personal histories of everyone involved. Carissa never leaves Duke ouside in the yard alone when she is not home, a fact that her neigbors confirm. 
    • In addition, Duke has never had a complaint issued against him and has even been commended for his good behavior in public by a board member of the Lucas County Pit Crew who stated that Duke was not reactive to people, to dogs or even after Duke had an object hit him on his head.
    • Carissa has never been in trouble with the law either.
    • According to several posts on the Support Duke Facebook page, the man involved in the incident allegedly has a criminal history, including two theft-related charges


Current status

Now, Carissa is in desperate need for a lawyer to help her fight the charges against her and overturn Duke's dangerous dog designation. Having been turned away by legal aid and other low income legal resources, Carissa - who has never been in trouble with the law before - faces what she is calling "a horrible nightmare" with little recourse and few resources available.

She is asking the public's help in securing legal representation and raising the funds to cover Duke's dangerous dog" insurance. The insurance is estimated to cost $1,000 a year and she is required by law to pay before her next court date in November.

Carissa also hopes her case will be shared by the public and gain publicity to help highlight a flaw in the legal system in her community. She hopes that positive changes can be made so that no other innocent person will have to go through this terrible experience, and that no other loyal dog will be punished for protecting their home.

Carissa's next court date is November 6th. 

Update November 12, 2012:

After meeting in court on the 6th, a date of December 20th has been chosen for the next court date, where a trial by jury will take place. Carissa is hoping that support from the public with help finance the court costs, so if you would like to support Carissa and Duke, refer to the links below.

Update December 17, 2012:

At a pretrial hearing today, the "Failure to Confine" charge against Carissa was dropped. Carissa was happy with with the court's decision on this charge and expressed, "There are no words to explain the amazing feeling I have right now!! Thank you all! .... No court on Thursday!"

On a second charge of "Failure to Vaccinate" for rabies, Carissa says that she pleaded "No contest", although she insists that Duke has been vaccinated. However, due Carissa's inability to provide proof of vaccination within two days of the incident, the charge was upheld.

The case against Duke has yet to be presented and Carissa recognizes that there's still another battle to be won. "I'm on cloud 9 and hoping the same for Duke!", she said.

The Lexus Project is handling the case against Duke and representing him in court.


What you can do to help 

If you would like to support Duke, Carissa and Kaleb, here is what you can do:

Update February 18, 2013:

Carissa and Duke have won their case! The court found that the Respondant failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that Duke is a nuisance dog, a dangerous dog or a vicious dog. 

Single mom asks public for support after dog bites alleged home intruder


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Comments on this Article

Nice police work with questioning witnesses and that awesome investigation...NOT. Why did this even go to court, thank god for the Lexus Project. Amazing people doing amazing work to save pets wrongfully being prosecuted. What is this world coming to...
I followed Carrisa and Duke's story from the start and am so relieved and thankful that it has ended well! It makes me so angry that it ever got as far as it did. The police who took care of this case were really rotten in my opinion! How can you not charge someone with unlawful entry when they knowingly go into a home they are not suppose to be in? The whole trespassing thing was a way to get her to leave them alone so they had less work to do and the fact that they did not write any sort of report proves it. I have been around enough cops to know that they are suppose to write a report on all their calls even if it is just a sentence or two! Our judicial system gets worse and worse as the crime does. There are way too many dogs being persecuted today for things that are unjust and unfair! GOD BLESS Carissa and Duke, may they now live happily ever after!
soo glad to hear that Duke has been cleared, anyone that breaks into my house beware of Casey, if they deem you dangerous she's only protecting her home, just like Duke did,,,,
How stupid can people be??? What a waste of taxpayers money. That dog deserves to be commended
So happy that both Carissa and Duke won the case!!!
I live in Fl. and therefore have the "stand my ground" law as protection. Unsure of current law, but if I can use a gun, surely my dog would be considered a protective entity also. Am open for comments if anyone knows of legal wording pertaining to this issue. There is a "Beware of Dog" sign posted in my front yard. He is very protective of both me and his "turf" and it would not behoove anyone to trespass on our property and certainly not into our house. If you want to ignore the dog, at your own risk, beware of the owner as I will give no ground to intruders! Wishing Clarissa and Duke the best.
Someone broke into my house about thirty years ago. At the time I had three German Shepherd Dogs. He got into the house and lined all my belongings up against the wall near the window he came in through. He had already gotten a big TV and two cameras out the window somehow before the dogs realized he was there (they were likely outside). One of my female dogs came in and caught him inside. I could see the way he traveled. First he went to the front door that won't open without a keep whether you're inside or out. Second he went to the big picture window and that's where she caught up with him. The curtains were pulled down and there was blood on them. Then he went to the open window and got out. When I got home, my female Shepherd was sitting by the open window guarding it. If she hadn't been there, we would have lost everything of any value. Criminal rights are currently more protected than victims rights. This needs to change. Crime is so high right now because with our legal system as it is, crime does appear to pay.
I am very happy to let you all no yesterday 12/17 carissa went to court and all charges against her were dismissed she still has more court dates to come for duke her dog but the lexus project has taken on that case so keep her in your prayers
Robert Nov 15 2012: You were asking about previous mention(s) about the "victim," who was allegedly bitten by Duke, Carissa Curry's dog. I remember seeing some mention of the man being a "known crack head." Perhaps one of the two neighbors, who spoke to the police, made mention of that fact. Unfortunately, their statements never made it into the police report. Since the alleged "victim's" name was not made public, I can only assume it was to protect his privacy. Without knowing his name, there's no way anyone can check out his background. Unfortunately, Carissa Curry's name and home address were given out in an article in The Toledo Blade. When The Blade was questioned about releasing Carissa's address to the public, their explanation was: It is our policy to include full addresses, when reporting on criminal cases (or words to that effect). So, Carissa is labeled in the media as "the criminal," while the man who was bitten by her dog, Duke, while protecting her home, is considered "the victim" by the Toledo, Ohio, Police Dept. This is absolutely unbelievable!
This is just crazy, the guy better be glad I wasn't The neighbor who caught him, he would riding in a ambulance instead of walking down the street. The cop needs to look at his law book also. The man entered the home, That's unlawful entree, trespassing, the police are there to protect & serve. They took the oath to do so, not be lazy, & not filing a report, is grounds for suspension. I guarantee if he had pulled someone on a traffic stop, he would find someway to charge them. We have a right to protect our belongings, & the dog had a right to protect the home, rather if someone was there at the time or not, the man unlawfully entered the yard,& home. he only crime here is the unlawful acts of the man, & his intentions. Send a letter to your state government to start an investigation on the law enforcement office. hen sue the law enforcement office. They will settle this out of court so fast. Just think if it had of been the officers house with one of there own dogs, these charges would never have been charged against an officer of the law. I will give what I can to help. but it will be in a few days to see how much I can get together to help.
heres another story on my daughter and her hero Duke kirsti at channel 13 news in toled ohio did this story tonight thank you kirsti http://www.13abc.com/story/20132497/owner-dog-falsely-labeled-vicious-after-protecting-home
It's a sad day in this country when a criminal can turn the tables on a law abiding citizen and ruin her life, and the court system lets him. Pathetic. All my support to you, Carissa!
good boy duke u was only doing wat was right im hope everything works out for u all
Hello, I emailed the address (dogwarden@co.lucas oh.us) to the lucas country dog warned but it bounced back. so I sent the following via their enquries page ; ) To whom it may concern, I’m writing to express my dismay and concern for the wrongful handling of the case of Carissa Curry’s dog Duke being labelled as a "dangerous dog" for defending his home from an intruder. I ask that you please reconsider this case, as there are witness to attest as to what really happened. The alleged intruders story has changed several times and it’s clear he was attempting to break into the property. He also has a criminal history of engaging in similar crimes. If laws punish the victims then why should anyone abide by laws?! If the laws don’t make sense to people, then people won’t respect them or the Police for that matter. Also, why punish a single mum who can’t afford to defend herself? Her dog would bring her much joy from his company, so it’s outrageous to keep him away from his family for unfair reason. He was just doing what dogs do by their very nature, which is to defend their home and protect their owners. Please investigate this with some common sense this time and put the bureaucracy aside. Thanking you Best regards Kristy Mason of Adelaide, South Australia (yes you department is getting a bad name wide and far)
I thought when I first started following this story there was a article that said the dirtbag that got bit had several arrests for breaking and entering. I have been trying to find it but haven't had any luck does anyone else remember it?
Good dog, Duke:)
This was a comment made on the support duke page and the truth behide it is amazing it touch my heart..................... Kelly Brandeberry I think all of us dog owners and lovers feel so connected to u because we all realize how easily something like this could happen to any one of us. All of our dogs we would hope would do exactly what Duke did and to have him and yourself get in trouble for what happened is shameful. If u were to loose this case it could set a precedence for other courts to follow and none of us want that to happen. If good wishes and prayers could help u win I'd say u have it in the bag. I would fight equally as hard for anyone of my dogs as u r doing. So i really admire u for not rolling over and accepting what they r doing to u both. When people questioned my decision to spend $3000 on my 12 year old German shepherd to get an MRI when he suddenly starting falling. Everyone thought I was stupid for cashing in my savings bonds borrowing money and doing everything I could to come up with the funds I told everyone for the 12 years of love and loyalty he had given me I owe him this and so much more. How could I not do everything I could for him? And u owe Duke in the same way for his loyalty. So glad u r paying him back.
Are you kidding me??? someone enters my home, I can SHOOT THEM DEAD under the stand your ground law. My DOG attacks the intruder, and I am being SUED???? I can lose my house and job? Yo loser, that is the risk you take when YOU ARE A CRIMINAL!!! iTS dangerous being a criminal. pathetic. And the oficers....greta job of proper documentation.
the real dangers here are those who dare to invade another's space and the idiocy of the dangerous dog laws
Your dog has a natural right to defend it's turf. The intruder is trespassing on YOUR property end of story. If a lawyer cannot defend this act the lawyer should NOT be practising! Good Luck! Any judge finding against this dog only being protective of it's property is giving the intruder the RIGHT to break the LAW!.
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