Vicious Pit Bull Ripped Skin Off NJ Toddler’s Cheek in Attack, Lawsuit Says
KINNELON — A New Jersey couple's young son has been permanently scarred, mentally and physically, after a savage and gory pit bull attack in this Morris County borough, according to a lawsuit.
The toddler, who was 18 months old at the time, was in a stroller pushed by his mother Roxanne Miller and his grandmother Bonie Oakley at the Sept. 24, 2022 Town-wide Garage Sale in Kinnelon last year, the lawsuit said. Proceeds from the annual fundraiser benefit the borough's local firefighters.
Also at the town sale was a pit bull named Leo and his three owners, identified in the suit as Gary Gabriele, Lori Cipra-Gabriele, and Kurt Stelzenmueller.
As Miller was perusing the sale with her son, the pit bull lunged at the toddler and "violently attacked," the suit said.
The dog had to be put down, a Kinnelon municipal judge ruled within a few months of the attack, attorney Mark Brancato said to Townsquare Media. Brancato is the Miller family's attorney.
He said that Leo's owners did not dispute the facts of the case but disagreed that the pit bull would present a future danger, which is the standard of New Jersey.
Visceral details of the Kinnelon pit bull attack
The toddler was secured in his stroller and unable to run from the attacking dog, according to the suit.
Roxanne Miller had to act to save her son; she fought the pit bull and pulled it off the toddler, according to the lawsuit.
She was "splattered by the blood of her son" amid the carnage, the suit said.
The pit bull ripped the flesh from the toddler's cheek, according to the suit. Fortunately, a nurse was nearby and put the torn cheek on ice, preserving it until it could be reattached, Brancato said.
The reattached cheek is healing for the now 30-month-old boy but there is still scarring, according to Brancato.
The lawsuit blames Leo's owners for negligence and demands financial compensation for damages, attorney's fees, and other costs associated with the court process.