Charges of obstructing justice were filed against Christal L. Williams, 32, and her husband, Jesse L. Williams, 45, both of Thompsonville after their Rottweiler allegedly mauled a 9-year-old girl in Frankfort Community Park in West Frankfort.
Franklin County Animal Control Supervisor Anthony Skobel said charges were filed after the owners tried to hide the dog from animal control officers and sheriff’s deputies.
“The little girl was swinging on a swing in the park when the Rottweiler broke loose from the lady, later identified as Christal L. Williams,” he said. “Two park employees and surveillance video identified the lady. The video shows the dog breaking away from its owner on March 19.
“While I am the animal control supervisor, I am still a peace officer, and we take this type of thing very seriously,” Skobel said.
“We devoted two days to getting this matter resolved.”
He said the girl was wearing a heavy coat but still received injuries.
“She had puncture wounds to her elbow and lacerations to her forearm and the back of her neck,” he said. “If she hadn’t been wearing a heavy coat, her wounds could have been much more severe.
Franklin County Sheriff Don Jones said felony charges have been filed against the couple. Jones said Franklin County Animal Control responded and located the dog on its leash on March 21.
Skobel said matters could have been much worse.
“If we hadn’t found the dog, the little girl would have had to undergo rabies treatments,” he said. “Any dog bite needs to be reported to my office. We have to quarantine the animal for 10 days and make sure that it has been vaccinated for rabies.”
Skobel said the Rottweiler is currently being quarantined.
“The Williamses surrendered the dog to me on the afternoon of March 21, and the Williamses were subsequently arrested by sheriff’s deputies,” he said.
He said the 100-pound dog should have been properly restrained.
“If you have to walk your dog, make sure it is properly restrained,” Skobel said. “In this case, the dog broke away from the lady. If you can’t properly restrain your dog, I recommend that you not walk it on a public street. This could have been very, very serious. Fortunately, the little girl was not hurt that severely.
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“I have a good working relationship with the sheriff’s department and Sheriff Don Jones,” he said. “We know that either one of us can call the other one if we need something.”
Skobel said investigation led to the arrest of the Williamses, who initially said the dog did not belong to them. “They denied owning the dog at first,” he said.
Jones said each posted $500 cash, or 10 percent of the $5,000 bond, and they were released from the Franklin County Jail.
Skobel said adoptions at Franklin County Animal Control are on the rise.
“The rescues are also going very well,” he said. “We have an overwhelming amount of calls, especially this time of year about kittens and stray dogs. It is unbelievable.”
Speaking on behalf of Franklin County Board members, Tom Vaughn extended support to Skobel.
“The Franklin County Board discussed this matter and are 100 percent behind Animal Control,” he said. “We encourage Tony Skobel and his officers to write tickets and the sheriff’s department to pursue charges against the offenders.
“I remember having my 3-year-old grandchild on those very swings in that very park on a wonderful fall day, and it sends chills up and down my spine to think what could have happened,” Vaughn said. “In this case, the dog went for the little girl’s throat, and she has marks on her neck.”
He said the heavy coat saved the girl from further injury.
“Boy, we’ve just dodged another bullet,” Vaughn said. “What will that little girl think about dogs from now on?”
For more information about animal control, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Franklin-County-Animal-Control.