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Officer at scene of dog attack found boy 'covered in blood,' woman screaming

A 7-year-old Niagara Falls boy is expected to survive a dog attack in which he was severely bitten on the face and head, police said.

Capt. Michael Trane confirmed the boy's name is Kaden Mitchell. Police Superintendent E. Bryan DalPorto said Friday the boy was in critical condition in Women and Children's Hospital.

Amy L. Lewis, executive director of the SPCA of Niagara, said Thursday that she spoke to the owner of two Rottweilers that were in the yard where the boy was attacked. The owner agreed to bring the two 15-month-old dogs to the shelter, where they were euthanized Thursday night, Lewis said.

Kaden was attacked about 3:15 p.m. Wednesday at 228 70th St.

A police report said the boy suffered “jagged lacerations to the back of his head, his right ear was partially torn off, large jagged lacerations to the right eye and cheek area of his face.”

Trane said the boy lives on 80th Street. Trane said a woman was babysitting the boy at the 70th Street home, and the child had been there with the dogs before.

The house at 228 70th St., where a Rottweiler mauled a boy June 7, 2017. (Thomas J. Prohaska/The Buffalo News)

Niagara Falls Police Lt. Jason G. Sykes estimated the Rottweilers weighed as much as 160 pounds.

Sykes, who was the first officer on the scene, said he saw two women and two children in the backyard, along with two large dogs.

“I walked up the driveway to the gated fence,” Sykes said. “I looked through and saw a female holding back a very large Rottweiler, and then there was a second Rottweiler to her right. She screamed, ‘I’m too exhausted. I can’t hold him back any longer!’ To her left there was a small boy. He was on his knees, bent over. He was covered in blood. I tried to shout out to him, ‘Son, can you move over this way?’ He doesn’t respond.”

Sykes said he was trying to decide whether to go in alone or wait for more officers.

“At that point the dogs had kind of gotten distracted and moved toward the back of the yard,” Sykes said. “I at that point entered and extracted the young boy and brought him to the ambulance crew that was staged on the street.”

Sykes said the woman who was holding back the dogs told him that only one of the dogs attacked the boy.

“I had to assume that both animals took part in it,” Sykes said.

Trane said one of the women referred to the boy as her nephew. She went to the hospital with the boy after he was rescued by Sykes.

No charges have been filed, but the investigation remains open.

“At the scene, there was nothing to indicate originally that this was anything other than an accident,” Sykes said.

“It was an accident,” said a woman who drove up to the house as reporters were there Thursday afternoon. She refused to give her name.

The police report identified the owner of the dogs as Keri Ann Sweatman, 44.

Trane said the department had heard some criticism that Sykes didn't shoot the dogs. Trane said Sykes had no right to do so, since the attack was over when he arrived. If the dogs had been biting the boy when police arrived, the animals legally could have been shot by the officers, Trane said.

The report said two Rottweilers were placed in the back seat of a patrol car, but Wednesday the SPCA initially refused to take them, even when Sweatman tried to sign them over to be euthanized.

Lewis said the SPCA wouldn’t take the dogs because their rabies status was unknown. Trane said the dog that attacked the boy had to be placed under quarantine for 10 days.

Lewis said the dog couldn’t be put to sleep during the 10-day hold without the Niagara County Health Department’s approval, and that was obtained Thursday. She also said the city’s animal control officers were powerless Wednesday because the dogs were owned, not strays.

Reporters saw two Rottweilers in the driveway Thursday, behind a gate that carried a “Beware of the Dog” sign. A third dog barked inside the house and occasionally looked between the curtains of the front window.

A woman inside the house refused to come to the door, but she did call police to complain that reporters were trespassing. Four officers came to the scene and decided that was not so.

The two-story house bore signs reading “No Trespassing” and “Private Property.”

Niagara County land records list Jeffrey M. Zewin as the owner of the home at 228 70th St. and said he lived at that address. However, a phone call to a number listed online for Zewin was answered by a woman who said she was Mary Zewin, Jeffrey’s mother. She said they live in Las Vegas, which matched the area code for the number.

Mary Zewin said the residents of the 70th Street house are renters and were not given permission to have dogs on the property. She said she had not heard about the dog-bite incident.
Trane said police have no record of any previous calls to the home for dog-related issues.

“Why do people have to have dogs like that?” asked Donna Adamec, a 70th Street resident. “They always bark. I’m not walking by there.”

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