It was an emotional Wichita Falls City Council meeting Tuesday morning. Melvin Lewis' parents gave a heart-wrenching account of their son's plight and pleaded with city leaders to toughen up on vicious animal owners.
Lewis was mauled by two pit bulls last Tuesday evening near the corner of Kemp and 10th St. His injuries are so bad, he's undergone over 14 hours of surgery and his family expected more Tuesday.
"They gonna take his eyes out today," said Rosevelt Gildon, Lewis' father. "I wonder what you'd think if it was you."
Gildon and his wife, Linda, described the gruesome injuries their son suffered. "I'm a retired nurse," said Linda, "and my son looks like a monster."
"I would hate for you to see him today," said Rosevelt.
The Gildons and another city resident pleaded with city leaders to toughen up on the owners of vicious animals. Calling for harsher punishments. City leaders said they would look into the matter, but there may be some legal obstacles.
"We have to work within the confines of state law," said Wichita Falls/Wichita County Public Health Director Lou Franklin. Mayor Glenn Barham added there are limits to what the state allows for punishments for vicious animal crimes. City Attorney Miles Risley said the state prohibits municipalities from declaring certain breeds vicious. It must be based on the behavior of the individual dog.
Another of the Gildon's concerns is over the lack of an arrest in the case. Police Chief Dennis Bachman said his department is investigating the incident along with the Public Health District. And, he said, he expects the case will go to the District Attorney's office and the dogs' owner could be facing a 3rd degree felony charge.
In the meantime, Franklin said the two dogs are under quarantine. She also said they are trying to obtain a seizure warrant to keep the dogs in quarantine until they can be determined to be vicious. If health officials get a vicious determination, the owner can an appeal. Otherwise, he or she would have to adhere to strict requirements to get them back or the dogs will be put down.