MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas - UPDATE: The dog who mauled and injured a three-year-old girl will be euthanized, according to Judge Matt Beasley's Office.
Kaydin Downey, owner and founder of Hamilton at your Service, LLC and Official Liaison Representative for the family, sent the following statement to FOX 26:
"The family can finally breathe knowing this dog won’t be back out in restaurants wearing vests, mauling more people. We won a small part of the battle today and we’re preparing to win the war. Jennifer Romano’s blatant disregard for the law and public safety needs to be brought to light and businesses need to know how to look out for other people like her.
The number of fake service dogs in the US is continuing to rise and businesses have a legal responsibility to their customers to ensure that the animals in vests are truly Service Animals. Hamilton at your Service LLC’s focus is bringing to light their rights to protect not only themselves but their customers so nothing like this ever has to happen. There are questions you should be asking and behaviors you need to look out for. We’re here to walk management through the ins and outs to uphold ADA compliance, unlike Loose Caboose and many other unaware businesses in Houston."
The question of whether a three-year-old pitbull named Kingston lives or dies will be answered by a Montgomery County judge.
The hearing on whether to euthanize began Friday after the dog mauled and brutally injured a three- year-old girl named Ronin Waldroup while she was out at a restaurant with her family earlier this month.
"The way that I classify this case—other than the tragedy to the little girl—is that it’s a capital murder trial for Kingston," said John Kovach, attorney for the dog’s owner.
The Montgomery County Animal Control director testified as the first witness in the hearing, stating the dog was not a service animal—it was an emotional support animal. He said the attack on Ronin was the first reported attack the dog had made, although he’d heard talk of other bites.
The attack left Ronin with severe face injuries and trauma.
"If she hears a dog outside of our home while we’re in the living room or anything, she essentially goes into hysteria, she has panic attacks, she’s having trouble sleeping," said Cleveratta Gordon Waldroup, Ronin’s mom.
The defense attorney for the dog’s owner says a doctor recommended his client get an emotional support animal for her anxiety and that her emotional support dog was labeled and leashed while in the restaurant when the attack happened.
"Emotional support animals don’t have that right to be out in public, so to know that her lawyer even said that this is her emotional support animal, it still doesn’t give a strong case to say that this animal had a right to be in a service vest let alone in the restaurant itself," said Waldroup.
Ronin’s parents are hoping the dog will be euthanized, while the attorney for the dog owner is pushing to keep the dog alive.
The hearing is scheduled to resume Monday morning at 8 a.m. via Zoom, and the father of the victim says others will testify that it’s not the first time the dog has bitten someone.
"They’re all in line to show that this dog had prior biting, and this lady had the gall to bring it back out in January and bring it into that restaurant," said James Waldroup, Ronin’s dad.
The dog owner is accused of running away from the scene when the dog attack happened. The animal control director testified that he ticketed her for not immediately quarantining Kingston. She has not been charged with anything so far.