BRIDGMAN — Following a lengthy investigation into a Bridgman child being bitten by a dog, charges are now being sought against the father of the victim and owner of the dog.
Police Chief Daniel Unruh said Monday that the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office is charging 24-year-old Elex Dubar for allegedly filing a false police report, and charging 55-year-old Douglas Essig for allegedly having a dangerous animal causing serious injury, plus conspiracy to falsely report a misdemeanor.
Dubar initially told police a dog bit his 3-year-old son Bentley on July 29 along Lake Street in Bridgman. Dubar told police that his son had approached a woman and her dog, and the woman allowed the boy to pet the animal.
He said the dog then bit the child in the face.
Dubar told police the woman “just walked away” with her dog, described as possibly a golden retriever.
During the investigation and interviews, according to Unruh both subjects conspired to falsely report where the incident actually occurred, and made up a fictitious description of a dog and handler.
After officers identified the actual dog that bit the child, it was found to be properly licensed, up to date on shots and was ordered quarantined by the Berrien County Animal Control department.
Both Dubar and Essig were subsequently arrested. Dubar was later released from jail on bond while Essig – the owner of the dog – is being held in the Berrien County Jail after his arraignment Monday.
Dubar will be in court today for a pre-trial conference. Essig’s next court date is for a pre-examination conference on Sept. 5.
“I’ve seen false reports made before. I took exception to this one because we were out searching for a ghost dog and handler for several days until we got information that pointed to Mr. Essig and the child’s father,” Unruh said. “The reason they gave us (for doing this) is they were afraid the dog would be put down or euthanized. We told them that’s not always the case.”
Unruh said the dog was quarantined to the homeowner’s residence for 10 days. He said the dog is still in the possession of the owner, pending court action.
Since the July 29 incident, the police department has kept in contact with the child and his mother as citizens have dropped off gifts for the child at the police department.
“People have been bringing in toys for Bentley and we’ve made two deliveries so far,” Unruh said. “The little boy is going to be OK. However, he’s going to end up with some scarring on his face.”
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