Alleged abused dog attacks family

A 90-pound dog with a history of neglect attacked three people Friday at its home along the 1500 block of Bell Avenue and will be euthanized, according to police.

Responding to a call around 6:30 p.m., Altoona police officers arrived to find that a 4-year-old Boxer named Stryker had bitten three of the home’s residents.

“This is the first time he’s ripped into anybody,” said owner Amber Himes through tears.

Himes said the dog was “acting up real bad” Friday evening, prompting her to grab his collar, which apparently set off the attack.

The dog jumped on her back and scratched her as she cradled her daughter in her arms to protect her. Eventually the dog went after her fiance, Travis Swab, and his mother, Lisa Swab.

He also went after the family’s other dog, a German shepherd mix named Moose, when he tried to defend them, she said.

“He’ll be 5 in September,” sobbed Himes as Lisa – still bleeding from bite marks on her hands and arms – tried to comfort her.

“It’s OK,” she said. “Thank God it was just us, and not someone else.”

Himes said she and Travis rescued the dog last year from its owner in Hollidaysburg, where the dog reportedly was locked in a bedroom 24 hours a day because of the owner’s hectic work schedule.

She said the dog never was taught how to play, was forcefully restrained and possibly abused.

When Travis learned about the dog, he and Himes decided to get Stryker for their 4-year-old daughter as a birthday present, she said.

Stryker had experienced aggressive episodes before but never attacked them, she said.

The police Sgt. Brian Freiwald said all injuries were to the owners’ hands and lower arms.

“It was already an abused dog,” Freiwald said. “For some reason, today the dog went a little berserk.”

Lisa’s fiance, Bryan Miller, who also lives at the home, helped stop the attack by kicking the dog when it came after him.

“I field-goaled [him],” Miller said.

Police said AMED transported Travis to UPMC Altoona to make sure the dog hadn’t damaged metal plates in his hands, which Himes said were the result of an accident years ago.

“He bit right around [where the plates are],” she said.

Despite the attack, both Himes and Swab wept as APD officers removed the dog from their residence, to be transported to a shelter and euthanized.

“He loves car rides,” Himes said as officers loaded him into the back of a police cruiser and her daughter waved goodbye.