METAMORA TOWNSHIP, Mich. – The owner of two dogs that fatally mauled a man as he jogged along a rural Michigan road could be charged after the attack, which was the third since 2012 involving canines from the same property, officials said.
Craig Sytsma, 46, of Livonia was attacked by the cane corsos Wednesday evening in Metamora Township, about 45 miles northwest of Detroit, authorities in Lapeer County said. He was unconscious when he was taken to a hospital, where he died of his injuries, police said.
"He was jogging, doing what everybody else does out there, running and riding bikes," said Metamora Township police Officer Sean Leathers, who was one of the first on the scene. According to police, a man mowing his lawn nearby saw the attack, got a gun and tried to shoot at the animals to chase them off.
Under Michigan law, a person may face involuntary manslaughter or other charges in such an attack. The county prosecutor's office is expected to review the case.
The dogs, previously identified as bull mastiffs, were quarantined at the Lapeer County Animal Shelter. Sheriff's Detective Jason Parks said the dogs were brought in by their owner, a 45-year-old man, and authorities will seek to have the dogs destroyed.
Sytsma, a divorced father of three, worked for Eltro Services in nearby northern Oakland County and had apparently decided to jog after leaving work, the Detroit Free Press said.
In May 2012, there was a report of a dog bite where the animal returned to the same property, Metamora Township Police Chief David Mallett told The Flint Journal. And in November 2013, a man was taken to a hospital after being bitten by a dog that returned to the address.
Mallett said he didn't know whether the same dog or dogs were involved.
Oxford resident April Smith told the Free Press, however, that one of the dogs involved on Wednesday attacked her in May 2012. Smith said she and her sister were walking two dogs when she was bitten. She said she was horrified that the owner still had the dogs.
"It's just crazy to me," Smith said. "Animal control should have done something. It should have never gone this far. The fact this has led to a death, it's sickening."
Some people in past dog attacks in Michigan have been charged. A Livingston County woman whose American bulldogs in September 2007 fatally mauled two people, including a 91-year-old man, was sentenced to prison in 2008. She pleaded no contest to two felony counts of keeping dangerous animals causing death and a misdemeanor charge of allowing her dogs to stray.