Judged a Vicious Canine, Champion Show Dog King Boots Must Lose His Life or His Bite
According to police accounts, the 110-pound defendant was lying in a hallway one night last December when 97-pound Grandma—frail, doddering and stricken with severe hardening of the arteries—emerged from the den, staggered and toppled over him. Jolted awake by the impact, Boots reacted by seizing the back of Grandma's head in his jaws and biting hard, inflicting wounds to the skull, face and neck. Mrs. Schwarb claims she pulled the dog away and called the police, but her mother was pronounced dead soon after arriving at the hospital. Police said Mrs. Schwarb, who witnessed the incident, "was excited and said, 'King Boots wouldn't hurt Grandma. He kisses her all the time.' "
The police, however, locked Bootsie up for murder. "The dog chewed on the back of the neck and almost severed the spinal column," said Chet Staniec, an investigator in the coroner's office. The Schwarbs insisted that King Boots was only defending himself according to his instincts. Noting that Grandma had previously suffered several minor strokes and that she had made no sound during the tussle with Boots, they claimed that another stroke or heart attack felled her. "It wasn't the dog that killed her mother," argued the Schwarbs' attorney, Richard Selik. "She was dead when she hit the floor."
Bootsie's fate hinged on the differing conclusions of two autopsies. Oakland County Medical Examiner Dr. Bill Brooks testified that his examination of Mrs. Monroe's body "conclusively demonstrated at least six separate and distinct bites," indicating the dog continued to attack Grandma after she had fallen on him. Still more damning, the Schwarbs' former housecleaner and nurse's aide, Judy Piet, 22, testified that Boots also bit her, inflicting a scalp wound requiring nine stitches last August when she had stumbled over him in similar circumstances. But Dr. Henry Kallet, a professor of pathology at the University of Michigan Medical School who was hired by the Schwarbs to perform a second autopsy, told the court Mrs. Monroe's injuries were caused by a single bite. He also found a blood clot in her heart, which he said pointed to heart attack as the cause of death.
While testimony went on in the crowded courtroom, King Boots languished in the pound, where Charles Schwarb visited daily to groom him and serve up his chilled gourmet dog food. The Schwarbs value the dog at $6,000 and are building a $300,000 house and kennel where they hope to raise Bootsie's offspring. Boots, however, has hit middle age without siring any pups, making his fertility, and therefore his worth, suspect. Bootsie's fans want to see him saved, and mail has run 95 percent in the dog's favor. "People get out on bail every day, but this poor dog has been kept behind bars since the day he was placed there," protested local breeder Judy Crane. "It's a hard enough time for these people, with everything that's happened. They shouldn't lose Boots too."
When the gavel came down, District Judge Edward Sosnick offered the Schwarbs a choice. Ruling that the dog was vicious, he ordered Boots destroyed by lethal injection, unless his owners agreed to confine him at home for the rest of his days, after having a veterinarian neuter him and pull his offending teeth. "I have to try to reason this out," said owner Kathryn Schwarb, who has 21 days to decide. "I'm so shaken I can't make up my mind."