88-Year-Old Saves Girl from Pit Bull Attack By Fighting Back With Neighbor’s Nutcracker Yard Statue

Leonard Miller
CBS News

Leonard Miller of Stark Country, Ohio, was in sitting in his home on the afternoon of November 24 when he heard someone pounding on his door and screaming for help. Upon opening the door, he found his 13-year-old neighbor begging for help -- her 10-year-old sister was being attacked by a pit bull in their home, and she was desperate to save her. In that moment, the 88-year-old U.S. Army veteran leaped into action and ran next door.

  • When Miller ran to the girl's home, he was horrified to see the 10-year-old's arm caught between the dog's teeth.

    “This dog had this little girl down just growling,” he said, according to the Associated Press. “He had her arm and was shaking her like he would shake an animal or something."

    "I hit the dog, I don’t know how many times, but it didn’t faze that dog, didn’t faze it,” Miller told Cleveland 19.

    Speaking with IndeOnline, Miller said that in hindsight, he wishes he'd grabbed a baseball bat on the way out the door, but instead, he grabbed the first thing he could: a 2- to 3-foot tall nutcracker statue standing in his neighbor's yard.

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  • It took a few more whacks from Miller, but finally the dog released the girl.

    The young girls, who have not been identified publicly, immediately fled the home, with Miller trailing behind them and locking the door as they left for safe measure. He later recalled that the dog wasn't barking or growling as they left, but he did yell, "No! No! No!" as he backed away.

    Miller brought the sisters to his home before calling 911.

  • According to authorities, the attack appears to have been unprovoked but nonetheless serious.

    The girl was treated for severe injuries on her left arm, although as of this reporting the current status of her injuries remained unclear. However, Miller shared that he has spoken to his neighbors and learned that doctors were able to save the girl's arm.

    Miller said he could hear the dog still barking in his neighbor's house Monday morning after the attack. Later that day, Major C.J. Stantz of the Stark County Sheriff’s Office deemed the dog vicious, and police were sent to the home, where the owner relinquished the animal.

    The girl's mother is not the owner of the dog but said it belonged to a man who had been living at the home. 

  • Meanwhile, Miller is being hailed a hero -- though it's a title he bristles at. 

    "I don’t like to be called a hero," he told 19 News.

    Speaking to IndeOnline, he added that he was just happy to be there when trouble struck.

    “I’m glad I was here to help,” Miller said. “I don’t know what would have happened.”