WATERVILLE — The owner of a pit bull that attacked him last Friday said he never hurt the dog and is completely surprised by the attack.
Daniel Baxter, who lives at 84 Front St., where the attack happened, said he took his dog out to relieve itself. When he brought it back inside, it continued to relieve itself. Baxter said he spanked the dog and yelled for him to stop, at which point he said the dog inexplicably attacked him.
Waterville police Chief Joseph Massey confirmed Baxter is the owner of the dog, a pit bull named Shogun.
Baxter said people have been labeling him as a pet abuser, which he said couldn’t be further from the truth. He said he loves Shogun, even after the attack. He said he was shocked when it happened.
“I’ve never beaten my dog,” Baxter said.
Dean Paquette, who owns the building, said Baxter and Shogun had been painted in an unfair light. He described the attack as “a freak accident” and said people had “jumped” to blaming the attack on animal abuse.
“This is not one of those cases,” he said.
Shogun is being held in quarantine at the Humane Society Waterville Area, where the staff has described him as friendly, non-aggressive and with no signs of abuse. Lisa Smith, director of the humane society, said they had received numerous calls claiming the dog had been abused. Baxter and Paquette disputed that claim, and Paquette said a number of calls had been from his ex-wife. However, Smith said they had received calls from multiple people, which in turn were reported to the police.
“My sense is this is not from one person,” she said.
Baxter said the attack was “out of left field” when it happened. He said even when he spanked the dog and yelled at it, the idea that it would attack never crossed his mind.
“I had no idea that was going to happen,” he said.
He said he was still trying to wrap his head around the attack as he’s recovering.
“Why he attacked me, I don’t know,” he said.
Massey described Baxter’s injuries as “horrendous” on the day of the attack. Massey had not been at the scene, but he saw police photos. He had said Baxter suffered serious injuries to his arms and legs.
Baxter said he treated Shogun well, and likened their relationship to that of a parent and child.
“When I came home, that dog had my undivided attention,” he said.
He said he is at a crossroads. He doesn’t want to see the dog put down, and he and Paquette have been working to try to find a place the dog can be sent. Paquette said if the dog is surrendered, the Humane Society Waterville Area will look to place the dog in a new home.
“We think he needs to be in some type of rehabilitation (program),” Paquette said.
Paquette said they wouldn’t be going to such efforts if this was a dog that lashed out after being constantly abused. But he said they couldn’t take the chance of this happening again. He also said they did not want this to perpetuate a negative stigma associated with pit bulls.
Baxter has not been charged with a crime. He said the dog slept in his bed with him at nights, had plenty of toys and had its own couch in the apartment.
“I am a victim,” Baxter said.
Massey said Baxter and Paquette have not contacted Waterville police to dispute any claims.
“If they have something to dispute, they’re welcome to give me a call,” Massey said.
Colin Ellis — 861-9253