Circuit Court LC Nos. 16-020086-FH, 16-020087-FH.
Before: Borrello, P.J., and Wilder and Swartzle, JJ.
these consolidated cases, defendants Daniel Ridge (Docket No.
333790) and Debra Olney (Docket No. 333791) appeal by leave
granted a June 27, 2016, circuit court order
denying their motions to quash their bind-overs on charges of
owning a dangerous animal causing serious injury in violation
of MCL 287.323(2). For the reasons set forth in this opinion,
we reverse and remand for entry of an order quashing the
Daniel Ridge and Debra Olney are married. In September 2015,
the couple lived in a residential neighborhood and owned two
dogs. The dog at issue in this case was a "possible pit
bull, Shar-Pei mix" named Roscoe.
Flietstra, an employee of Scott's Lawn Care, testified
that when she arrived at the property next door to the home
of defendants on September 10, 2015, she "saw two large
dogs in defendants' backyard." Flietstra testified
that the property she was working on and defendants'
property were separated by a chain-link fence. Flietstra
testified that the dogs "seemed like normal dogs"
to her and denied that their behavior caused her concern-even
when they were jumping on the fence.
testified that she began spraying fertilizer and weed
control, but took care to avoid spraying around the animals.
Flietstra testified that when she was spraying near the fence
line in issue, she was "approximately three feet
away" from the fence. Her back was to the fence and she
was "spraying forward." Janis Strang, one of
defendants' next door neighbors testified that she
observed Flietstra spraying the day she was injured. Janis
testified that Flietstra was approximately five feet from the
fence when spraying and that Flietstra was
"probably" spraying about five or six feet away
from her body.
testified that while she was spraying, Roscoe got
"partially underneath the fence" and "grabbed
[her] by the boot." Flietstra testified that Roscoe
"pulled [her] leg partially underneath" the fence
during the ensuing struggle. She said she "couldn't
get away from its grasp, so [she] let it take [her] boot
off." After she lost her boot, Roscoe "completely
came underneath the fence, squared off with [her] and started
coming after [her]." Flietstra testified that when the
dog "charged, " she tried to "block it"
using her hands, which were gloved; Roscoe then "kept
biting" and "was grabbing, clenching, and then
shaking its head" while biting her hands. Flietstra
testified that Roscoe also "got a hold of her
pants" and was "biting everywhere it could."
testified that "[e]ventually, the dog kind of tired out
a little bit and [she] seized that opportunity to jump on top
of it." Flietstra testified that she was holding Roscoe
by the collar with one hand, while the "other hand [was]
in its mouth so it would stop biting [her] abdomen and [her]
legs and everything" when police arrived.
Strang testified that she heard a lot of barking from
defendants' yard. Janis noted that defendants' dogs
"bark all the time, but they acted like something was
really agitating them" that day. Janis described the
dogs as "barking at something on the other side of the
fence. And I mean really barking; they were hitting the
fence, and-and jumping." Janis testified that she heard
Flietstra scream "get off me" and then continue
screaming. Janis stated that she could not see Flietstra, but
saw Roscoe "shaking . . . like [he] was attacking."
She called 911. Janis denied ever calling animal control or
the police regarding Roscoe prior to the attack on Flietstra.
County Sheriff's Department Deputy Joe Travis testified
that he was notified by dispatch of "a [sic] animal bite
in progress." Travis arrived at the home of
defendants' neighbor, Janis Strang, who pointed to where
a female was being attacked. Travis ran to the next yard
where he saw a dog pulling Flietstra. Travis approached and
yelled something and the dog released. Travis testified that
he then shot and killed the dog as it appeared ready to
charge at him.
testified that Flietstra "stated that she could not move
her arms; that she thought she had several broken bones,
" and he observed "several punctures and-and
bleeding." Flietstra testified that she "had bite
marks just everywhere, all over my body, contusions,
bruising." She explained that "the dog bit through
a [bone] in my left hand. I [had] one more fracture in my
left hand near my pinkie bone. I had to get six large
puncture wounds stitched up with eleven stitches . . .
Christopher Burton investigated the attack on Flietstra.
Burton testified that he spoke with defendants. Ridge
described the dog as a "family dog" and had Roscoe
for about "two, three years" prior to the incident.
Ridge informed Burton that "the dog's never been
aggressive before. Never heard him growl at anybody or bite
anybody before." Burton testified that Olney echoed
Ridge's statements, stating that "she was very
surprised this would happen; again because [the dog]
wasn't violent towards anyone in the past. And they have
a lot of people that are in and out of the house. And the
dogs have never shown any violence towards them in the
house." However, Ridge acknowledged that Roscoe
previously attacked the neighbor's lawnmower and on one
occasion Roscoe punctured the tire of Dennis Strang's
testified that Roscoe bit his tractor tires twice. The first
time the dog bit the lawnmower tires Roscoe got his face
under the fence and bit the tire, causing enough damage to
necessitate repairs. According to Dennis, the other time he
"pulled [Roscoe] the rest of the way through the
fence" by reversing his tractor. Dennis testified that
as he was taking Roscoe back to defendants' property, he
"wouldn't look at the dog. Because an animal can
sense fear, and [he] was afraid if [he] looked at the dog he
might attack [him]." Dennis testified that he spoke with
Ridge after the second incident and that Ridge told him
"they were trying to find another home for the
dog." Dennis denied informing Ridge that he was afraid
testified that after the second attack on the lawnmower he
began carrying his handgun with him while he mowed his lawn.
Dennis also testified that he observed Ridge "put[ting]
some more fencing up" and testified that Dennis
"cut a piece of four-by-four and put it down by the
fence so the dog couldn't get though again." Burton
testified that defendants "tried securing the bottom of
the fence and put some meshing on the bottom of the fence
along both fence lines" and "[t]hey put some slats
that they got from another neighbor or from someone to try
and block the view of the dog."
Jennifer Link, an Associate Veterinarian at the Miller Animal
Clinic, testified that Roscoe, was a "neutered
male" dog born May 24, 2014, and was treated at the
Miller clinic. Link testified that Olney requested "a
letter of the temperament of the dog." That letter
indicated: "[a]ccording to [the clinic's] records
[the dog] never displayed any signs of aggression or required
the use of a muzzle or sedation to be handled."
Strang testified that she did not have any previous
"contact" with Roscoe because she did not "go
in the backyard." Janis testified that she kept to her
deck "cause you can get back in the house really fast
because the slider's right there." "[I]f I ever
went down to, like, water my plants, " she continued,
"he [Roscoe] was always there barking and being really
aggressive." Janis also testified that "[n]one of
[her] grandkids would go in the backyard, " and noted
that Roscoe "was scary, " and would bark at
"anything that moved." Dennis testified that their
grandchildren "didn't play in the backyard
'cause [sic] the dogs just raised so much hell that
there's no reason." Dennis also testified he saw
Roscoe playing with defendants' children and had not
witnessed the dog be aggressive with defendants'
children. Dennis stated that defendants' dogs would run
at the fence when he was in his backyard and would bark, jump
and bite the fence.
Steffy, an acquaintance of Olney, testified that Olney
described Roscoe as a pit bull and said "they were
having some issues with his behavior and with their
neighbors." Steffy testified that Olney told her she was
having a problem with Roscoe "biting tires of lawn
mowers" and with "her neighbors being afraid of
him." Steffy told ...