Two pit bulls broke into a 63-year-old woman’s home off of Almond Street on February 18, killing her small dog before dragging its body into the backyard.
According to witnesses, the pit bulls got out of a nearby yard, jumped over two four-foot-tall chain link fences and into the yard where the poodle-mix was located. Then, they followed the poodle into its home through a 10-inch-wide, one-foot-tall dog door.
Once inside, the dogs rummaged through the kitchen garbage container, then attacked the small dog, killed it and dragged it through the kitchen, living room and garage before pulling the body back outside.
“I knew [my dog] wouldn’t be around forever, but he was still full of life and spunk and had several good years left,” said the owner, clearly distraught by the news of her pet’s death. “My dog was more than a pet; [he was] my sweet ‘little boy doggie,’ my constant companion, my reason to get up in the morning, my protector.”
A 10-year-old neighbor discovered the scene; his mother called the Sheriff’s office and San Diego County Animal Control. She also contacted the dead dog’s owner at work and the pit bulls’ owner, who picked up his pets immediately.
The victim’s brother and boss entered the home to clean up the dog’s remains and found a “massacre.”
“There was blood and feces everywhere,” said the owner. “The carpet has been cleaned twice and the blood still wicks to the surface.”
This was not the first time the pit bulls had gotten out of their yard and attacked a neighborhood animal.
San Diego County Animal Services Deputy Director Lauren Joniaux said a complaint was made last year against the same dogs after they attacked and seriously injured a goat in the neighborhood.
However, because the goat’s owner accepted monetary compensation for the animal, no charges were pressed against the pit bulls’ owner even though the goat had to be euthanized because of its injuries.
When the animal services representative arrived in response to the dog attack, they said the pit bulls could not be removed forcibly from their owner’s property because there were no witnesses who would perform a citizen’s arrest, allowing Animal Services to act on the citizens’ behalf.
If the witness is not willing to press charges, said Joniaux, the case becomes a civil recourse and removes Animal Services’ ability to take action. If a citizen’s arrest is performed, Animal Services can take administrative action.
Joniaux said there is a significant amount of dog attack cases in which witnesses do not want to press charges, most times because the witness is afraid of some sort of retaliation from the accused individual.
She said another problem arises when the accused animal is not still on the premises after the incident and there are no witnesses to the attack.
“This can be frustrating for citizens who request an animal to be removed, and for us because we cannot enforce animal removal,” said Joniaux. “If a dog injures or kills an animal, we try to take administrative action, but we need to have a witness.”
“I’m not a vindictive person, but I’m certainly being pushed in ways I never imagined,” said the victim, who said she would press charges if needed. “This scenario is like something you would read from a horror story.”
In this case, the pit bulls were relinquished by their owner and euthanized by Animal Services.
Because the animals were relinquished, no charges were made against the owner, but the woman whose dog was killed still feels the pain of having lost her pet in such a traumatic way.
“My safety net is gone,” she said. “Every noise I hear makes me jump. I keep looking out into the backyard to see if anyone or anything is there. I hate that feeling.”
The pit bulls’ owner has yet to contact the victim with an apology, a note on her door or an offer of help with the expenses she has incurred. However, she is looking for a way to seek justice.
“Pet owners need to understand the importance of restraining their pets and obeying the laws,” said the woman. “They need to understand the havoc they can wreak on someone’s life.”
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