A tragic dog attack incident in Metamora Township is going to trial in Lapeer County soon. However, this trial is not about civil damages. Instead, it involves two dog owners facing second-degree murder charges.
Last July, jogger Craig Sytsma was brutally attacked by two Cane Corsos while running near the property of Valbona Lucaj and her husband Sebantiano Quagliata, the owners of the dogs. Tragically, as a result of the attack, the innocent jogger died from his injuries.
The upcoming trial marks the first time Michigan dog owners have been charged with murder following a fatal dog attack.
According to a Detroit Free Press article, if convicted both owners face up to life in prison. Although that may initially sound harsh – especially when one considers both defendants were not home at the time of the attack – the prosecution is expected to present evidence the dog owners knew the dogs were extremely dangerous prior to the attack. In addition, they failed to keep the dogs properly confined or fenced in, and instead, allowed the dogs to roam freely on the rural property.
Additionally, it is expected the prosecutors will present evidence two people were attacked and bitten by the dogs months before the killing and that even the family’s veterinarian warned the dogs were dangerous and needed training.
The dogs’ breed was a major contributing factor to the attack. Cane Corsos are a type of mastiff and are bred to protect its territory. When the dogs saw Mr. Sytsma jogging past their property, the unrestrained animals chased after the man and attacked.
The Free Press article also mentions the Metamora case closely resembles other dog maulings that resulted in death. Like other dog mauling deaths, this case involved owners who were not present to intervene to stop the attack. Additionally, the victim had no prior interactions with the dogs.
This is an absolutely tragic situation all the way around. My heart and deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of Craig Sytsma. This tragic and easily preventable death only reiterates the need for dog owners to ensure their dogs are properly restrained when encountering humans.
Basic training is also a must and if there are serious indications the dog may be a menace and is dangerous, it is best to consult with a vet or other trained professional to make the best decision possible so innocent people are not attacked.