A Cambridge Springs woman has been sentenced in Crawford County Court of Common Pleas for allowing her pit bull to bite her then-7-month-old granddaughter in the face at the woman’s home back in January.
Sue E. Blair, 41, of 147 Kearney Ave., was sentenced Tuesday by Judge Mark Stevens to 18 months probation after pleading guilty in county court in July to a charge of a dog attack causing serious bodily injury.
The child was placed in a bouncy chair in the home as Blair was feeding the child with a spoon on Jan. 8, Paula DiGiacomo, first assistant district attorney, told the court during sentencing. The dog, a 5-year-old pit bull, was sitting next to the bouncy chair when the attack took place.
The seat helped protect the girl until the dog was pulled off, according to DiGiacomo.
“If the dog had gotten hold of her and shaken her, she would not have lived,” DiGiacomo said.
The child, who has recovered, had to have plastic surgery for her injuries, she added.
Euthanizing the dog was part of Blair’s plea agreement with the Crawford County District Attorney’s Office.
While Blair had no prior criminal record, DiGiacomo told Stevens what was most concerning in the case from the commonwealth’s perspective was Blair’s denial the dog was dangerous.
Blair could have faced up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine had the case gone to trial and Blair was convicted.
“A big issue in the case was she did not want the dog euthanized,” DiGiacomo said of negotiating the plea agreement with Blair.
Blair told Stevens the incident took place around 1:30 a.m. Jan. 8 in her living room. Blair was in the room with the little girl as well as Blair’s daughter and the daughter’s boyfriend.
Blair said she was feeding the child at her daughter’s request in an effort to get the little girl to fall asleep. Blair admitted she was feeding the dog as well.
“It’s mine and my daughter’s fault that he got her,” a tearful Blair said of the dog’s attack on the little girl. “I was trying to give her meat and the next bite he thought was his. He tried to get the spoon, not her.”
Blair said the attack left the girl with a long scar on one cheek as well as a puncture wound under her chin.
“It killed me to see that happen,” Blair said of the attack. “It killed me to put Zeus down.”
The animal was euthanized Aug. 3, she said.
Stevens calmly reprimanded Blair for saying she apparently knew what the dog was thinking.
“It’s our best guess — we don’t know what a 5-year-old pit bull is thinking when given a spoonful of baby food,” Stevens said. “The mere fact you have a dog that close to a baby being fed sends off alarms to me.
“The risk was pretty obvious — this wasn’t okay,” Stevens said.
With Blair having no prior criminal record, jail time wasn’t warranted in the case, the judge said, “but probation of some length is warranted here.”
Blair was ordered by Stevens to serve 18 months of probation plus pay a $150 fine and court costs. Her probation may end after 12 months if all fines and costs are paid and she has no probation violations.
Stevens’ sentence order does allow for one dog owned by Blair’s daughter to remain in the home, but no other pets may be in the household while Blair is on probation.
Keith Gushard can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at [email protected]
Editor’s note: This article was updated Dec. 1 to correctly identify that the child was placed in a bouncy chair.