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January 31, 2006 - WorldNow (US Web)

Police Dog Bites Middle School Student During Special Presentation

By Maureen Kyle

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

(NEW ALBANY, Ind.) -- The Hazelwood Middle School student attacked by a police dog Monday continued recovering at home Tuesday.

Eleven-year-old Courtney McGarry was petting a dog from New Albany's K9 unit after a DARE presentation at her school when the dog bit her on the face. WAVE 3's Maureen Kyle has an update.

The dog had been brought in from the New Albany Police Department's K9 unit for the special presentation by the school resource officer and the New Albany Police Department. They were showing the students the dog's drug-sniffing skills.

After the presentation, the dog was apparently startled and bit the girl on the cheek. A school nurse rendered first-aid and she was taken to the hospital.

Student Jalen Stubbins was there when the dog attacked. He says "the guy just told us you can go pet the dog, he won't bite. And everybody was petting the dog, and then all of a sudden he just bites that girl."

On Tuesday New Albany Police Chief Merle Hall said it was the officer's fault that McGarry was attacked and offered an apology.

"I would like to take this opportunity to publicly apologize to her and to her family for what occurred," Hall said. "And to dog handlers throughout the country because it tarnishes the K9 programs everywhere a little bit."

Courtney reportedly stayed home from school Tuesday while the bite wound to her face heals.

Chief Harl believes the dog was provoked when the girl kneeled down to be face level with him. He says the accident was not the girl's fault or the dog's.

He's blaming the officer handling the dog.

Jalen's dad, Maurice Stubbins, says he hopes "the school does review their policies about having dogs."

"The most important thing is to make sure child is OK and make sure that we keep these things from occurring again our schools,"said Tony Bennett, the Assistant Superintendent of Floyd County Schools.

The dog will stay on the force because Harl says the animal did what it was trained to do.

But the officer handling the dog could have a written reprimand placed in his record.

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