FREEMAN — A judge has ordered three pit bulls remain impounded after mauling a Freeman woman earlier this month, and the Freeman City Council will decide next week whether to have the dogs put down.
A Freeman mother and son, Denise Schild, 63, and Dawson Schild, 33, live at 309 S. Wipf Street in Freeman, where they kept the dogs.
The Schilds appeared Monday before Judge Patrick Smith at the Hutchinson County Courthouse in Olivet. The Schilds’ cases were continued until July 25.
They are charged in connection with the June 13 early morning attack on 55-year-old Aleta Starner, who was walking near the Freeman Community Center at the time. Another resident had alerted the Freeman Police Department about the dogs and concern for his safety.
The attack on Starner occurred shortly afterwards, before Police Officer Jonathan Slevin arrived on the scene.
Starner was allegedly mobbed by the Schilds’ four dogs in the incident and was bitten 17 times. She suffered 63 different injuries and was taken to the Freeman hospital where she required about nine sutures to close her deepest wounds, according to authorities.
Three pit pulls were recovered and are housed at a Sioux Falls facility, according to Freeman City Attorney Mike Fink. A fourth pit bull involved on the attack on the woman has not been located, he added.
Monday’s court hearing included the City of Freeman’s complaint seeking an impound warrant, Fink told the Press & Dakotan.
“The court ratified the impound warrant and seizure of three dogs. The court has ordered that the dogs remain in impound until further order of the court,” Fink said.
“On July 5, at 6:30 pm, the Freeman City Council will hold a hearing to determine whether to have the three dogs put down. At that time, the owners — the Schilds — may attend and seek to show cause as to why the dogs should not be put down.”
Dawson Schild has been charged with one count of obstructing a law enforcement officer, a Class 1 misdemeanor. He has been accused of refusing to turn the dogs over to authorities and then taking or arranging the transport of the dogs out of Freeman.
Later, three of the dogs were allegedly taken by Denise Schild to Yankton, where they were left with a dog sitter, according to authorities. The defendant allegedly did not disclose the Freeman attack to the Yankton dog sitter, according to authorities.
Hutchinson County State’s Attorney Glenn Roth filed the obstruction charge against Dawson Schild. The misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of one year’s imprisonment and a $2,000 fine.
On Monday, Schild received his initial appearance on the obstruction charge and has been scheduled for a July 25 arraignment where he will enter his plea.
He remains free on $1,000 unsecured bond.
In addition, the Schilds have each been charged with one count of disturbing the peace by animal and four counts of a dog running at large. The maximum penalty for each of those charges is 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Smith also set July 25 as the Schilds’ next court appearances on those charges.
authorities allege the Schilds’ actions placed the public health and safety in jeopardy.
The Schilds are represented by court-appointed attorneys. Scotland attorney Derrick Johnson represents Dawson Schild, while Menno attorney Ken Bertsch represents Denise Schild.
The Schilds are representing themselves in the civil complaint regarding the impound warrant.
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