GIRARD - The owner of the dog whose bite left a 12-year-old with more than 100 stitches is sorry the girl was injured but says she was not bitten while walking past the 15-month chocolate Labrador as she claims, rather because she was too close to it.
"Destiny (Turner) walked over to Schnook and put her face next to the dog's face," Christina Morris said Thursday. "That's when he bit her face."
The girl claims she was walking toward her house, 211 Broadview, about 7 p.m. Sunday when the chained dog leaped on top of her and began biting her face.
Morris says she has told Destiny and other kids in the neighborhood on numerous occasions not to go too near to the dog, which she said was chained to a tree in the rear of the house Sunday.
"I don't know why she did it on Sunday," Morris said. "I wish she had not."
Destiny had been at Morris' Dearborn house most of Sunday afternoon.
"She's here all of the time," Morris said. "She comes over to be with me. There are a lot of boys in the neighborhood, and she likes being over here."
They spent Sunday afternoon taking pictures and sunning themselves in the yard, Morris said. Earlier in the day, Morris described playing tug of war with the dog.
"(Destiny) wanted to come closer to me while we were doing it, but I told her not to," Morris said.
Destiny's mother, Susan Turner, said she does not believe Morris' version of the story.
"I believe what my daughter told me," she said. "She has no reason to lie."
Morris said she has owned Schnook for five to six months and that he listens to commands.
"He is basically a good dog," she said. "Yes, he can be aggressive at times. Kids in the neighborhood throw rocks at him at times. I think something may have happened at the prior owner's home."
After Destiny was bitten, Morris said she took the girl to her mother's house.
"I was trying to comfort her," she said. "I understand that she was scared. I would have been, too."
From there, Destiny was taken to St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown, treated and released.
Schnook, meanwhile, has been kept at the home of Nick Spelich, 622 Johnson Plank Road, Bazetta. Spelich is Morris' sister's boyfriend.
"The neighborhood is not so crowded, as it is in the city," Spelich said. "He has been inside and outside of the house."
Sandy Swann, Trumbull County Health Department epidemiologist, said Wednesday that the dog is required to be quarantined for at least 10 days in case it has rabies.
Spelich said he will take the dog to the Trumbull County Sheriff's Office after the 10 days are completed.
Sheriff's Detective Harold Firster said the department knows where the dog is and has made contact with the people living there.
"We informed them (on Wednesday) what they are required to do as far as contacting us at the end of the 10-day period," Firster said. "If I don't hear from them, they will be arrested."
Firster said the sheriff's office has the situation under control.
Morris hopes after this is over, Spelich will be able to keep Schnook.
"This house is too small for him," she said. "He needs room to run. It would be better for the dog."
Bazetta Trustee Paul W. Hovis was not aware of the situation with the girl or that the dog is in the township.
"I can't tell someone whether they can or cannot keep a dog," Hovis said Thursday. "I own two dogs. I would guess most people do not know what happened."