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The owner of a dog that bit a Denver TV news anchor in the face is facing criminal charges in connection with the bite, which happened on live TV. But it appears the dog's owner may have a legal defense.
Michael Robinson, 39, of Lakewood, Colo., is charged with allowing a dog to bite, the Associated Press reported. Robinson is also charged with failing to keep his 85-pound Argentine mastiff on a leash, in connection with a separate incident that made his dog somewhat of a local celebrity.
Robinson's dog Gladiator Maximus, or Max for short, allegedly was not on a leash when it fell into a frozen lake Feb. 7. Fire crews responded, and local TV news helicopters captured the dog's rescue.
The next day, Max and owner Michael Robinson were guests on KUSA-TV's morning news program. 9News' Kyle Dyer kneeled down to caress and kiss the dog, which bit the news anchor in the face.
Video of the bloody bite went viral. We've embedded the clip below, but be warned, some may find it disturbing:
9News anchor Kyle Dyer received 70 stitches and will require more surgery, ABC News reported. Max was quarantined for 10 days, pursuant to Jefferson County's animal-control ordinance, and released.
Owner Michael Robinson has a Feb. 29 court date for the leash and bite charges. County law makes it a Class II misdemeanor for a dog to bite a person and cause bodily injury "while off the dog owner's premises and under the control of the dog owner." A convicted owner can face a $500 fine, which can be suspended in lieu of probation, the ordinance says.
But the statute carves out two defenses: A dog owner is not liable if the bite victim was attempting to commit a crime against the owner, or if the victim "provoked" the dog, "which resulted in the bite."
Animal experts seem to agree 9News' Kyle Dyer incorrectly approached Max, which may have provoked the dog to bite the news anchor in the face. In response to concerns and criticism, KUSA ran a series on how to properly interact with dogs, the Denver Post reports.