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'This was sheer terror': Lexington neighborhood wants answers after series of dog attacks

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Posted at 7:00 PM, Apr 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-19 19:16:29-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A Lexington neighborhood is pushing for answers and action after a series of reported dog attacks near a home on Glendover Road.

The dogs’ owner, James Pelfrey, has been cited in five different alleged incidents where his three different dogs bit a person or another person’s dog since last April, according to court records. There were other instances where the dogs allegedly charged at people or were running loose, and neighbors said there were more biting incidents that were never reported to animal control.

At least four of the cases against Pelfrey have been dismissed, according to court records. The previous cases were dismissed because Pelfrey was found incompetent to stand trial, according to emails from the county attorney’s office to those in the neighborhood.

Sarah Bogusewski, who lives nearby, was walking in the neighborhood on March 5 when she says she was attacked by two dogs that escaped from Pelfrey’s home. Bogusewski said she didn’t know the dogs were there until they hit her from behind, knocking her down.

“I went on my hands and knees, and they started attacking from the back,” Bogusewski said. “Biting, shaking, tearing.”

In about 20 seconds, Bogusewski was left with about 30 bite wounds, some of which needed stitches.

“You hear about the strength of an animal’s jaws, and I’ve never understood exactly when they measure the pounds of pressure, now I know,” Bogusewski said.

Surveillance video provided to LEX 18 shows the two dogs escape the house where Pelfrey lived and run out of frame after Bogusewski. Bogusewski can then be heard screaming for help until another neighbor scared the dogs away.

“I was in so much pain I was starting to not be able to get back up on my feet completely,” Bogusewski said. “And I think I would have been kept on the ground, and they probably would have moved further up. And I almost shudder to think what else could have happened in another ten seconds.”

It wasn’t until after the reported March 5 attack that Bogusewski learned that Pelfrey had been cited previously for incidents involving his dogs.

“I want to know, really, where the ball has been dropped,” Bogusewski said.

Both Bogusewski and the area’s neighborhood association have reached out to the Fayette County Attorney’s Office for answers, and both were told that Pelfrey was found incompetent to stand trial in the previous cases.

LEX 18 tried to ask Fayette County Attorney Larry Roberts about the situation with Pelfrey and the dogs, but Roberts said he cannot discuss ongoing cases. When we tried to ask him about the prior dismissed cases against Pelfrey and whether it would have been possible to ask for the dogs to have been removed, Roberts refused to answer any questions.

During his arraignment on the most recent charges related to Bogusewski’s attack, Pelfrey told the judge that he’d been found incompetent. The judge told him that he would have to be re-evaluated to see if he’d be found incompetent in the current cases.

Lexington-Fayette Animal Care and Control Chief Nathan Bowling said that the two dogs allegedly involved in Bogusewski’s attack are being held pending the outcome of the court case.

“We can enforce it all day long. We can write as many citations as we can, put through the court system, I can seize and hold animals at my legal holding time as long as I can,” Bowling said. “But beyond that, once the courts rule on it, my hands are tied.”

Another dog of Pelfrey’s was previously put down after a reported biting incident, but the dog was only euthanized because no one came to pick it up after the holding time, and the dog did not qualify for adoption, according to animal control.

Andy Mead, president of the Southern Heights Neighborhood Association, said that the street where the dogs lived was heavily traveled by pedestrians and near an elementary school and a daycare.

“It was a dangerous situation, and there were repeated attacks, and nothing was being done,” Mead said.

In a response to the neighborhood association’s email to the county attorney’s office about the situation with the dogs, an assistant county attorney responded and lined out the possible outcomes of the most recent case. He wrote in part:

“There are three potential paths this case can take: (1) If he is determined by the court to be mentally incompetent, by law, the charges must be dismissed, (2) he and his defense counsel can work with our office towards a negotiated plea bargain that will include forfeiting his animals, not to possess animals, etc., or (3) he can request a trial by jury.”

While Pelfrey recently moved from the Glendover Road house, both Bogusewski and Mead said they are concerned that the problem could follow him if the dogs are returned.

“I’m glad for us that it’s over; I’m hoping for us that it’s over,” Mead said. “But I do really think that it will just show up in another neighborhood in Lexington unless something is done.”

For Bogusewski, the attack could have lasting effects, including permanent scarring and continued anxiety around dogs.

“I want everybody to feel safe walking on the street and being outside,” Bogusewski said. “We all love to be outside when it’s beautiful in Lexington, and everyone should be able to do that and not worry about these dogs coming out and attacking either themselves, their children, or their pets.”