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Woman Survives Attack by Dogs Then Gives Birth Prematurely

November 28, 1989

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ A woman gave birth prematurely after being attacked by a pit bull and a husky while unsuccessfully defending her cat.

Kathleen MacKenzie gave birth to a son Sunday by Caesarean section, six days premature and four hours after the attack in the parking lot of her apartment complex. She also had surgery on her right arm for wounds suffered in the attack.

Ms. MacKenzie’s son, Andrew Scott, was listed in good condition at the Seton Medical Center on Monday.

Also Monday, Ms. MacKenzie filed a lawsuit against the dogs’ owner. She accuses Joseph Chernoff of keeping the dogs in a populated area, failing to notify proper authorities when he found that his dogs had escaped, and negligence for allowing the dogs to run loose.

Ms. MacKenzie, a 31-year-old legal assistant, said she was trying to save her cat, Mew, from the 110-pound Akita Japanese husky and the 50-pound pit bull terrier when the larger dog jumped on her back and knocked her on her stomach.

Police killed the dogs when they threatened to attack officers.

Chernoff was issued two citations by animal control officers, said Dan Pickens, spokesman for the city Health Department. Each violation carries a maximum fine of $200.

Chernoff, who said he has received more than 50 threatening telephone calls since the attack, said he wasn’t surprised that the husky attacked Ms. MacKenzie.

″He’s bitten some friends before,″ Chernoff said. ″He doesn’t like strangers to touch him. If they (police) shot him, I’m not shocked. I’ve thought about shooting him myself.

″These were probably the two finest dogs in Austin except the big one was born with a bad personality,″ Chernoff said. ″I don’t understand them shooting the little one, I never will.″

Ms. MacKenzie seeks unspecified damages in her lawsuit for current and future medical expenses, the loss of her dead cat, current and future pain and suffering, and replacement of income lost during her recuperation.

The lawsuit also seeks punitive damages ″to serve as an example to others who might be disposed to keeping vicious dogs and allowing said dogs to roam at large.″

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