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Veteran, 88, saves girl from pit bull attack with Christmas nutcracker ornament

Leonard Miller, a war veteran from Canton, Ohio, recounts how he saved a little girl from a pit bull attack with a 3-foot nutcracker decoration.
/ Source: TODAY

Leonard Miller was enjoying a quiet afternoon at home last month when he heard loud banging at the front door.

It was Miller's 13-year-old neighbor, and she was hysterical.

“She said, ‘Our dog has got ahold of my little sister and he won’t let her loose,” Miller, who lives in Canton, Ohio, told TODAY.

The 88-year-old, who served as a medic in the Korean War, sprang into action. But before entering the family's house, he grabbed a 3-foot nutcracker from their outdoor Christmas display.

As Miller made his way into the house, he heard his 10-year-old neighbor screaming and saw blood everywhere, he said.

“The pit bull was on top of her and growling,” Miller said. “He had her by the upper arm and was shaking her violently. Her little arm was pulled out of the socket.”

Without hesitating, Miller said he delivered several blows to the dog’s head with the toy soldier. When that didn’t work, Miller hit the dog on the back of the neck, until it finally he let go. At that point, the sisters were able to escape to their front lawn.

"After they were gone, the dog kept looking around to see where she went," Miller recalled.

Miller said he locked the dog in the house, rushed over to the girls and then called an ambulance.

Leonard Miller used a nutcracker statue to fight off a pit bull attacking his young neighbor.
Leonard Miller used a nutcracker statue to fight off a pit bull attacking his young neighbor. Leonard Miller

“The medic said she might lose her arm and I was so worried, I couldn’t sleep that night,” Miller said. “But the next day, I got word that she is going to be OK.”

Maj. C.J. Stantz of the Stark County Sheriff’s Office told TODAY that the animal’s owners surrendered the dog to be euthanized due to the attack. The Perry Township Police Department did not respond to several calls or emails seeking comment about the Nov. 24 incident.

Though Miller is being hailed a hero for his bravery and quick thinking, he said the victim’s older sibling deserved the praise.

“She saved her sister’s life,” Miller said. “If she had fainted over there or panicked, it would have been too bad.”