Pit bull who attacked, killed woman could be put down later this week

Update: Owner of dog in fatal attack considers keeping pet

Sheriff’s deputies said that Cindy Whisman, 59, was dead when they arrived at her ranch-style home at 4743 Eck Road in Madison Twp. at about 1:10 p.m. Monday. A 911 call was received at 1:03 p.m. from a neighbor who told dispatchers that she saw a woman being attacked by a dog, according to sheriff’s officials.

That dog, Polo, described at a pit bull by the owner, is now at the Animal Friends Humane Society, awaiting the outcome of the investigation by Butler County Sheriff’s detectives.

Julie Whisman, Cindy’s daughter and the dog’s owner, said today she wants to see the results of that investigation and better understand what happened before making a determination about Polo’s fate. She said after thinking about the situation for 24 hours, she is “indecisive.”

Cindy Whisman was a “sweet woman who loved music,” Julie Whisman said today.

Julie Whisman and her young son just moved with her mother and father in the past two months, but she said her mother had known the dog for years.

Polo had never showed any signs of aggression with her son or anyone else, Julie Whisman said.

Family members do have the option to get ownership of the dog back, pending a court hearing and an order by a judge, detectives said. If they opt to not keep the dog, it will be euthanized after the investigation is complete, detectives said.

Monday’s dog attack was the fourth serious dog mauling — and third fatality — to happen in southwest Ohio this year. It is the first fatal dog attack in Butler County since 1998, according to sheriff’s officials.

Meg Stephenson, executive director of Animal Friends Humane Society, said she does not support a ban of pit bulls in Butler County, but said there should be harsher penalties against owners of pit bulls if their dogs attack and harm other dogs or people.

In the frantic 911 call recording, obtained by this newspaper, a woman can be heard screaming for help and breathlessly trying to tell dispatchers about the attack.

“Hurry! My neighbor’s dog is biting her,” the woman tells the dispatcher in between cries for help. “It’s a pit bull, she’s all bloody.”

According to Butler County records of the 694 pit bulls registered in the county, none were listed at Whisman’s address.

Julie Whisman told WCPO that her mother was at her home watching her 2-year-old son when she received the call of the attack while at work.

She and family members were “shocked” by what happened, she said. There had been no problems with the dog, who is named Polo, before Monday, she said.

“As far as I know my neighbor told me she saw her and the dog outside,” said Julie Whisman, who had moved in with her mother just two months ago. “She thought they were playing back and forth like this, then all of a sudden she saw her on the ground and kept saying Polo, Polo, because that was the dog’s name, and she was rolling over, so she (the neighbor) called 911 and then she didn’t see her no more.”

Merbs said the red-and-white colored dog had blood on its chest when deputies arrived and was “very aggressive” as attempts were made to remove it from the home. He said it took two people using two pole snares to secure the animal, which is now in the hands of the Butler County Animal Friends Humane Society. A second dog — a black Labrador Retriever — was also removed from the home as a safety precaution, Merbs said.

Sgt. Melissa Gerhardt, of the sheriff’s office, said Whisman’s husband was home at the time of the attack, but he told investigators that he did not hear any screams. It is unknown what provoked the dog to attack Whisman, Gerhardt said. Detectives said the woman suffered injuries to her face, neck and body.

Wayne H. Walker, 79, who lives next door to Whisman, told this newspaper that he was outside doing yard work with headphones on when another neighbor ran up to him screaming about Whisman being attacked by her dog. He said he grabbed his walking stick and immediately ran next door.

“I didn’t think to go get my gun in the house,” Walker said.

When he arrived next door, Walker said Whisman’s 2-year-old grandson was standing in the yard and the reddish-colored dog was “still right there with Cindy, licking her face.” Walker said he knew Whisman “was dead right away” and that it appeared as though she had been bitten multiple times around the face area.

“It looked like it (the dog) took a chunk of her throat out around the jugular,” he said.

At that point, Walker hit the dog across the face with his walking stick and the dog ran away, he said. He immediately grabbed the child and went inside of Whisman’s house. The child did not appear to be injured, Walker said.

Walker said he has known Whisman for 40 years, and that her husband has health issues and rarely leaves their house.

“It was a terrible thing that happened to her,” he said. “She was a good woman.”

Julie Whisman called her mother her best friend.

“Great sweet, loving lady, would do anything for anybody. She loved her grandson more than you would ever know,” she said.

Detectives roped off the entire back yard for several hours while investigating. Whisman’s body was removed from behind the shed in the yard by an investigator from the Butler County Coroner’s Office around 3 p.m. This newspaper could not confirm when an autopsy would be performed.

The recent string of attacks in the area has raised questions about certain dog breeds and laws for vicious dogs.

Recent dog attacks in southwest Ohio include Klonda Richey, 57, of Dayton, who was killed in February by two of her neighbor’s mixed mastiff breed dogs. Earlier this summer, a 7-month-old in Dayton died after being attacked by an American Staffordshire Terrier. A 6-year-old girl in Cincinnati was attacked by two pit bulls in June and sustained critical injuries.

Staff Writer Lot Tan contributed to this report.

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