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Teen talks about ‘scary’ pitbull attack

Police expect to file charges soon
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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It’s been almost a week since four pitbulls attacked him and Joseph “JoJo” Kerschner still has the fresh wounds that remind him of the scary encounter. There are the 18 or so stitches on his right underarm where the dogs almost punctured his brachial artery. The 17-year-old Weimar resident’s ankle is bandaged up to cover a deep bite wound that exposed bone. “The first day back at school I looked like a mummy,” Kerschner said Tuesday. Auburn Police Department officials are still investigating the case but expect to file charges in the matter soon, according to Capt. John Ruffcorn. The four dogs that reportedly attacked Kerschner remain quarantined at the Placer County Animal Shelter this week. A hearing will be held regarding the incident Wednesday afternoon in Auburn. However, despite the vicious attack, the dogs were initially allowed to stay overnight in the care of the property owner. Dogs knock teen to ground twice Kerschner said he had parked his car the evening of Sept. 16 in a parking lot behind a bus station next to Big O Tires off Lincoln Way in Downtown Auburn. He was walking to meet his parents and grandparents for dinner at an Auburn restaurant when the four dogs approached him in a “friendly” way. However, when the dogs were about a foot away, the teen said they suddenly attacked. Kerschner was knocked to the ground twice and remembers covering his neck and face with his left arm while he tried to push them away with his right arm. “I got up as fast as I could,” Kerschner said. “I knew if I stayed on the ground too long they would eventually get to my face.” When Kerschner was knocked to the ground a second time, he said that’s when the first of two people who helped him arrived. He identified the two good Samaritans only as Wade and April. “When I saw Wade coming over with a wrench I equated that to a knight in shining armor,” Kerschner said. Wade was able to separate the dogs from the teen as his friend April pulled Kerschner into her car. Kerschner said one dog continued to jump at the car and try to get at the two inside. “I honestly believe that if Wade and April hadn’t stepped into help me out, I might not be here right now,” Kerschner said Tuesday. Kerschner said he is still surprised at how fast the attack occurred and its random nature. “It happened way too fast,” the teen said. While he was safe inside April’s car, Kerschner called his parents, who arrived a few minutes later. “He was shaken,” said Gabe Kerschner, JoJo’s father. The 17-year-old was soon after transported via ambulance to Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital, where he received more than 30 stitches and his wounds bandaged. Pitbulls ‘vicious’ dogs? Ruffcorn said the four pitbulls were left Wednesday night under the control of the owner of the home from the dogs lived. Ruffcorn explained that the dog owner was not on site during the attack and is not the property owner. “If we could not be confident that the owner of the property (could maintain) the dogs we would’ve and could’ve seized them right then and there,” Ruffcorn said. Ruffcorn added that police wanted to ensure they did not violate the pet owner’s rights. “Just like in any investigation we want to make sure we complete the investigation before we lock up a suspect,” Ruffcorn said. “With these dogs we wanted to make sure we had the owner’s of the dogs rights represented and we needed to comply with the investigation with Placer County Animal Control and the city attorney.” Ruffcorn said investigators are “very concerned” about the victim. “What we’re looking at are some pretty serious consequences for these dogs,” Ruffcorn said. Ruffcorn said the dogs were seized the day after the attack based on more information officials gathered during the investigation. Officials are expected to reveal at the conclusion of the investigation whether they will deem the dogs “potentially dangerous” or “vicious.” If the pitbulls are found potentially dangerous, the consequences could vary, Ruffcorn said. If they are determined to be vicious dogs, then officials will ask that they be euthanized. “We already know which one we’re going to do but we’re not going to release it until the investigation is complete,” Ruffcorn said. “But we are going to ask, based on the our legal advice, for the most severe (consequences) we can.” Ruffcorn added that officials are also still trying to determine whether criminal charges will be filed against the dog owner. Police are withholding the name of the owner until charges are filed, Ruffcorn said. Victim ‘almost happy’ it was him The Kerschners said they have not met the owner of the dogs. JoJo Kerschner said he hopes that something can be done so another attack doesn’t happen again. “I’m almost happy it was me instead of someone who couldn’t defend themselves,” JoJo Kerschner said. “It could’ve been some little girl who was attacked.” A hearing regarding the matter will be open to the public. It starts at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Placer County Sheriff’s Office located in the DeWitt Center in Auburn. Jenifer Gee can be reached at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia.com.