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For $225,000, county settles lawsuit triggered by police dog

Erie County lawyers have agreed to provide $225,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the wife of a county sheriff's deputy whose police dog mauled their young daughter.

Jennifer Okal of Holland named Erie County, the Sheriff's Office and her husband, Deputy Michael J. Okal, as defendants in order to compensate their daughter for the injuries inflicted by the dog in August 2016. The dog bit the 6-year-old's face, arm, ankle and back when she released it from a kennel to run into the back yard, something the girl had done many times before, according to court papers.

Some $75,000 plus another $1,678 in legal expenses is going to the law firm that handled the case for Jennifer Okal, Cellino and Barnes, according to a court-filed settlement agreement. The remaining $148,321 is going into an annuity that will begin providing payments for the girl in 2028.  The agreement outlines three additional payments, in 2032, 2035 and 2040. The four payments will ultimately  total $280,842, the agreement indicates.

The dog, Spike, was returned to the company that sold him to Erie County.

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