Owners of dogs who attacked two children charged in Oktibbeha County

By David Miller/Columbus Commercial Dispatch (MCT)

STARKVILLE – The owners of five dogs that attacked two children in Oktibbeha County last month have been charged with two counts of aggravated assault.

Michael A. Garth, 21, of 1347 Cannon Road; Deundrey Garth, 19, of 1347 Cannon Road; and Alexandria Garth, 21, of 1384 Blackjack Road, turned themselves in to the Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office Wednesday once notified of the charges, Oktibbeha County Sheriff Dolph Bryan said.

Each posted $5,000 bond the same day.

As of Friday, a court date hadn’t been set for any of the three.

On Aug. 13, five pit bulls attacked the sons, ages 4 and 10, of Katie and Robertsen Riehle, on Self Creek Road. Both children were treated at OCH Regional Medical Center, while the older of the two was later transported to University Medical Center in Jackson.

After receiving a call about the attacks, deputies were directed to 1210 Charlottes Way, a residence adjacent to the Riehles’ home and the rental property on which the dogs lived. Upon arrival, deputies encountered five dogs and had to shoot the most aggressive of the bunch. Three dogs were placed in pens while the fourth ran away. The fourth dog was apprehended when the owners returned home.

Starkville Police Department Animal Control Officer Rick McKee transported the dogs to a city holding pen. He said there was blood in the road and on some of the dogs’ paws.

Three of the dogs will be euthanized while the fate of the fourth is pending a judge’s decision, Bryan said.

The sheriff’s department waited to file charges because deputies needed to speak to the 10-year-old to find out how the dogs got out of the pen, which is located on the left side of the trailer home. The boy revealed the dogs had ripped through the wood floor of the pen and dug underneath the fence.

“We talked to him last week when his parents brought him in,” Bryan said. “He’s real shy, and his mom had to re-ask the questions to him so he could tell her. He was the only one who could tell us how the dogs got out.”

Since the three arrested have different addresses listed from where the dogs lived, Bryan is unsure of which one of the them lives at the residence.

None of the dogs involved in the attack were tagged and collared, Bryan said.

John Marler, a neighbor of the owners of the dogs and the Riehles, said he’d talked to the owners multiple times about keeping the dogs on leashes or in pens. It wasn’t until the dogs killed one of Marler’s cats that the owners built a pen.

“I have four children myself, ranging from 5 years old to 16, and it’s been very scary for us,” Marler said.

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