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Vandergrift dog-bite victim desperately seeks help

Chuck Biedka
| Thursday, Dec. 23, 2010

Larry Reed thought his thick leather jacket had protected him, but when he got home after a walk in the cold Sunday night, his forearm was bleeding from a dog bite.

A pit bull terrier's teeth punctured his coat and pierced his arm at about 8:30 p.m. Sunday mere blocks from Reed's Sheridan Avenue home.

Now he needs to know the identity of the dog's owner and whether the dog has received its shots. If he doesn't, Larry will have to get rabies shots as a precaution.

If the dog didn't have its shots, the state health department would ask the owner to quarantine the dog for 10 days and watch its health, said spokeswoman Holli Senior. "Some people might think that we euthanize (kill) the dog, but that's definitely not the case," she said.

The dog wouldn't have rabies unless it was exposed to an animal -- usually wild -- that has the viral disease. But rabies remains a threat to people.

Reed, who sometimes has trouble explaining himself, remembers the dog that bit him.

"It was a light tan pit bull," he said Wednesday.

Larry said he felt OK and the wound doesn't hurt.

He said the man walking the dog asked him if he needed medical attention.

"Larry said no and then walked home only to find his arm bleeding," said Larry's brother and advocate, Jim Dunmire.

"We don't want anyone to get into trouble. And we don't want the dog taken away. We just need for the owner to come forward and tell us if the dog had its shots," Dunmire said.

"Larry walks all over town. He's about 110 pounds and about 5-feet-10 or 5-feet-11. He's really skinny.

"He often walks to the convenience store for snacks or cigarettes, and he was on his way back when the pit bull and its owner walked past him going in the other direction.

For an unknown reason, the dog bit Larry's arm.

Dunmire said the dog is no stranger to the area.

"Larry and others would see the dog about every other day. But since the incident, he hasn't been seen," Dunmire said.

Police have looked for the dog since Sunday.

Larry's wound was treated at the UrgiCare Center in New Kensington on Sunday. He's had a follow-up visit and is taking an antibiotic.

He doesn't want to get rabies shots but that will be necessary unless the owner comes forward.

"Maybe the owner doesn't know that Larry was bitten. After all, Larry told him he wasn't hurt," Dunmire said.

How to help

Anyone with information on the dog or its owner is asked to call Vandergrift pollice at 724-568-5507.

About rabies : The federal Center for Disease Control's Web site has information about what causes rabies, how to treat and prevent it, and precautions. Access the site here

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