92-year-old Alzheimer's patient mauled by stray dog at Tomball facility, attorney says

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Wednesday, March 4, 2020
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WARNING: The moment the dog leaps on the woman may be hard to watch.

TOMBALL, Texas (KTRK) -- Warning: The moment the dog leaps on the woman in the above video may be hard to watch.

A 92-year-old woman with advanced Alzheimer's was viciously attacked by a stray dog allowed into the Tomball facility where she was a patient, her attorney says.

Mike Kerensky said his client, Norma Graves, was a resident at the Village Green Alzheimer's Care Home on Medical Complex Drive when she was attacked on Feb. 12 and Feb. 22.

On Tuesday, Kerensky alleged the facility adopted the dog and allowed it to roam the halls and rooms unrestrained. He also claimed it bit another resident.

Kerensky says that, when Graves was attacked the first time, the facility covered it up and didn't notify her family.

He added that the second time she was allegedly attacked, the dog knocked her to the ground and mauled her face. Kerensky also claims Graves may need plastic surgery, that she almost lost one of her eyes, and she will have scars.

Graves has advanced Alzheimer's, operating on the level of a 3-year-old, but she loves dogs.

"She loves dogs. We all do. This isn't the dog's fault. Dogs who are allowed into facilities like this need special training because for a dog to interpret the actions of people who have Alzheimer's is very difficult. It scares them. They don't understand what to do, and that's probably why this dog attacked Norma," Kerensky told reporters.

After the incident, Kerensky says the dog went missing and was supposed to go into quarantine but alleges that didn't happen until a week later.

Kerensky filed a temporary restraining order Tuesday against Village Green to protect potential evidence including surveillance video and documents, accusing the home of ignoring previous requests to preserve the footage.

The attorney says they also want to make sure nothing happens to the dog so they can see it and test it.

According to Kerensky, Graves' family demanded to see surveillance video and recorded what they saw on a cellphone.

"Two things: One is justice for Norma. The second thing is somehow get the owners of this facility to understand that if you're going to use dogs for companions, therapy, support, they have to be properly trained. They have to be properly supervised, and you have to do it the right way. You just can't take a stray off the side of the street and put it in a home," Kerensky said.

Graves is no longer a resident at the facility.

Village Green sent ABC13 the following statement:

"Village Green Alzheimer's Care Home is founded on the Eden Alternative philosophy and principles of dignity, respect and freedom of choice. Where our care home centers around nature, family, pets and music. We have always taken great pride in the care and comfort we offer to our residents, and families. We received the puppy "Charlie" from his previous owner after she was assured that he was a great joy and comfort to the residents. He was re-homed at our community. As per our policy, all rescues are cleared by the veterinarian and are up to date on all shots and records. Observations are provided by all managers, staff members and families to ensure a smooth acceptance and transition of any pet in our home. Our pets are companions and for social comfort, not "service animals". We are deeply saddened by the incident at our Tomball Community which was an accident caused while the resident was playfully engaging with our puppy Charlie. But given the exaggerated and unsubstantiated statements by Kerensky, we would like to share the following facts of the incident. Post incident, Ms. Graves was discharged within 3-4 hours from the hospital and her daughter brought her back to our care at our community. Ms. Graves daughter stated to us that she understood this incident involving her mother and Charlie was a complete accident. Puppy Charlie has been placed by us at the veterinarian and has never been missing, as reported. We believe Ms. Graves and her daughter loved Charlie, as do all our residents and their families. The daughter was misled by Kerensky and that is when an honest accident has been grossly misrepresented. We understand the gravity of the accident and have duly responded at every step to act as appropriate and to continue to do the right thing for Ms. Graves, her family and Charlie."

After Village Green representatives sent their statement, the president and CEO of Eden Alternative clarified the reference to their group.

"Village Green is not an Eden Alternative Registry Member organization, and there is no record of Village Green team members attending Certified Eden Associate Training. While The Eden Alternative promotes the integration of animals into the daily lives of Elders, we recommend that organizations accomplish this through a stringent process, using The Eden Alternative Animal Welfare Guidelines. This veterinarian-authored resource includes guidelines for temperament testing and other considerations."-Jill Vitale-Aussem, President and CEO, The Eden Alternative