Dog owner sentenced after dogs maul girl

Saturday, June 28, 2003

MAUSTON, Wis. -- A dog owner whose six Rottweilers mauled a 10-year-old girl to death was sentenced Friday to two years in prison.

In a deal with prosecutors, Wayne Hardy, 25, pleaded no contest to recklessly causing harm to a child and child neglect. He could have gotten 60 years if convicted on the original charges -- which included homicide resulting from a vicious animal -- because he had a criminal record. The girl, Alicia Clark, had been visiting a friend at Hardy's home last year when the dogs attacked her. Neither Hardy nor his girlfriend, Shanda McCracken, was home at the time.

McCracken's daughter Melissa said she had heard a yelp, then saw the dogs -- two adult Rottweilers and four 6- to 8-month-old puppies -- attacking Alicia. Authorities said Alicia had been petting one of the puppies when an adult dog attacked her.

"There's nothing I can ever do or say to bring Alicia back," Hardy told Alicia's family in court. "I cared about that little girl a lot. I myself have to live the rest of my life knowing she died at my home."

Alicia's mother, Tammy Shiflett, said the two-year sentence was not enough. Alicia would have turned 12 on Friday, she said, choking back tears.

In addition to the two-year sentence, Hardy was ordered to serve three years of supervised release plus six years' probation.

Judge Robert Radcliffe also ordered him to pay Alicia's family $2,755 for her funeral expenses and between $5,000 and $6,000 for counseling.

Hardy also will not be allowed to own animals while on supervised release or probation. The dogs involved in the attack were put to death.

Hardy's attorney, Daniel Berkos, said there was no way he could have known the dogs would attack. "Was he careless? Probably. Was it reckless? Certainly not. Was it unconscionable? Certainly not," the lawyer said.

Prosecutor John Roemer said Hardy did not train the dogs, kept them in a squalid house filled with feces and urine and told others he thought the dogs were too aggressive.

Roemer said Alicia suffered so many wounds in the attack that a pathologist who examined her body did not try to count them.

"Every part of her body was bitten except the soles of her feet and her left hand," Roemer said.

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