Juneau man saves 12-year-old from neighbor's aggressive dog

Posted: Thursday, April 19, 2001

Timothy Benner has no doubt of the debt he owes Dale Steinmetz.

"He saved my son's life," Benner said.

Kevin Benner, 12, was attacked Sunday afternoon by a neighbor's Rotweiler as he rode his bike on Steelhead Street in the Mendenhall Valley. The boy needed 14 stitches in his left forearm and also suffered puncture wounds to his back, Timothy Benner said.

"Kevin just turned 12 and only weighs 68 pounds while the dog probably weighs over 100 pounds," Benner said. He and his wife Kathleen were hiking at the time and were summoned to Bartlett Regional Hospital by cell phone.

"My son was lucky," Benner, a customer engineer for IBM, said. "The dog took a chunk out of his arm, but he is still able to move his fingers."

Kevin was treated for three hours Sunday afternoon, said Marijo Toner, Bartlett's regional affairs coordinator. He returned Wednesday to check on a potential infection.

"We have problems with dogs running loose out here," Benner said, "and if they are big enough they can do some damage."

He reported the neighbor's dog to Animal Control at least three times in the past, he said. After an August 2000 incident, "I went up and talked to the owner face-to-face, and he assured me it wasn't a dangerous dog," Benner said. "I know they worked with it, but they could not control it." He said the dog was being walked on a leash Sunday, but broke away to chase Kevin.

Steinmetz, 39, a senior chief bosun mate with the U.S. Coast Guard, was at a friend's house Sunday when he heard screaming.

"At first I thought it was a small bear throwing something around. He had the boy by the arm and the back. I ran over, yelling at the dog, and he left. The boy had a chunk of his arm hanging off, but he was very brave; he never cried."

"Kevin said he knew this dog and had had a run in with it and was afraid of it," Steinmetz said.

"The owner called us at the hospital and was very sorry and concerned about our son," Benner said.

Wayne Lyons of the humane society said the dog was deemed dangerous and was euthanized. Information on possible citations was not available.

There has been at least one other dog bite incident in Juneau this year. Randy Sundberg, a quality performance consultant on the Admiral's staff, said that his daughter Brittany, 11, was sledding at Floyd Dryden in February when she was attacked by a German shepherd and bitten several times. The girl's leg from her knee to her ankle was black and blue and the skin was broken.

"The problem in Juneau is that owners are not abiding by the leash laws or in control of their animals. None of us wants to see kids attacked," Sundberg said.

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