DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A man who lost his left ear, most of his left arm and his left leg below the knee in an attack by a pack of dogs on Detroit’s east side describes himself as fortunate after surviving the mauling.
Steve Constantine told the Detroit Free Press that it’s difficult for him to recall details of the Oct. 2 night when he went to a friend’s house to feed the friend’s dogs. The attack left the 50-year-old critically injured.
Constantine is optimistic about his future, however.
“This is my life right now, I guess, and that’s just about how it works. This is my life and (I’m) still moving forward,” he said Tuesday as he sat in a wheelchair at Select Specialty Hospital in Mount Clemens. “I don’t know for sure here I’m going to end up.
“I’m hoping I end up independent or where I can rely on myself mostly.”
Vijay Malaichamy, senior rehabilitation manager at Select Specialty Hospital, noted that “Steve is always very upbeat” and “that positive attitude is going to help him tremendously to overcome the challenges he’s going to face during his progress.”
The 61-year-old owner of the dogs, Derrick Felton, was arrested on an unrelated warrant after the attack, but was released a few days later and given misdemeanor citations. Police initially said it appeared there was no malicious intent on behalf of the dogs’ owner.
Police later said they wanted a felony charge of harboring a vicious animal causing serious injury against the dogs’ owner and a decision is pending from Wayne County prosecutors. Felton has disputed details of the case, including the number and breed of dogs involved.
Police killed one dog at the scene and said they rounded up at least 11 other pit bulls or pit bull mixes that were later euthanized.
Constantine, who has had surgeries including skin grafts to cover the bones in his right arm and leg, said it was “not “very smart on my part” to try to feed the dogs. He said he remembers one dog biting him and another licking him, and he begged the dogs to stop.
“There was no streetlight, and it was a dark street and nobody around,” Constantine said. “I’m like, `Somebody help me,’ but who’s going to hear me. I didn’t see a soul.”
Since the attack, Constantine said he’s had a recurring dream of a dog that he fears will bite him. He grabs the dog’s “muzzle and its bottom jaw … and I keep saying, `Come on, quit it, quit it.”‘
The Sam Bernstein Law Firm has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Constantine, seeking at least $25,000 in damages.
The complaint contends that, among other things, Derrick Felton and Elizabeth Collins Felton were negligent, reckless and careless in their failure to properly train, tend, supervise and secure their “dangerous” pets.
Attorney Mark Bernstein said no help was given by the Feltons as the dogs attacked.
“This is not a case about pit bulls, it’s a case about people and their reckless conduct, which, in my respects, terrorizes communities.” Bernstein said. “And we have had enough, and many other people have as well; and this case hopefully will send a clear message that this type of conduct is unacceptable.”
Speaking to WWJ the day after the attack, Detroit Police Sgt. Michael Woody said neighbors had complained to police multiple times about the dogs.
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