Owner loses dog in mauling, would support changes to impound law
Phil Beatty isn’t a dog psychologist, but in his 19 years as an animal control professional, he knows a few things about canines.
The worst dog attack he’s seen involved a Shih Tzu shredding its owner’s arm and hand down to the bone.
“Not a pit bull or German shepherd, or a Doberman or a rottweiler,” but a Shih Tzu, he said. A lap dog.
He said that if a pit bull is raised well from a pup, it’s evident. Any dog can be vicious, and any good dog can snap.
“You just never know,” he said. “It’s just like people.”
The women were both sorry to become better acquainted under such circumstances: one family's pets attacking the other's beloved dog, killing it in its own yard.
Donna George said her neighbor was taken aback by the dogs' actions, cooperative and remorseful, after the two dogs climbed into George's yard and attacked Zoe, an 11-year-old dalmatian mix. The incident was reported to animal control, but the dogs were not impounded. The neighbors voluntarily sent their dogs away.
George was surprised to hear that the dogs couldn't be taken away for inflicting such grievous injuries on Zoe. Yuma County Animal Control Director Phil Beatty came to her Foothills home and explained to her that until the laws change, he couldn't immediately seize the dogs unless they bit a human.
George said she would very much support that change.
George doesn't think the people next door are bad neighbors, or bad dog owners. The dogs were current on their shots and licensing, and were kept in a kennel — but it had a dirt floor, and they dug their way out. They then must have climbed atop a short wall that allowed them to jump the four-foot-tall fence into George's yard.
George reasoned that the dogs snuck up on Zoe, who was inclined to bark when she saw something amiss. The neighbor that broke up the fight said he never heard barking, only a growling sound. He saw both pit bulls — George is certain they were pit bulls — atop Zoe, and shouted to call them off.
George said she could understand a dog fight gone deadly if the dogs that did the killing were defending themselves, their people or their home, but that was not the case.
“It was like premeditated murder to us,” she said, dogs seeking another dog.
It appeared to George that her dog had been pinned into a corner, but that she had tried to defend herself.
“It looked like, from the blood trail and everything, that she tried to fight them off,” she said.
She and her husband rushed Zoe to a nearby veterinarian. George didn't know at first where Zoe was wounded, because of all the blood. The dog had suffered puncture wounds to the head, a mangled ear, a gash to the neck and a broken leg just above her paw, at the human equivalent of her wrist. George guessed the leg wound happened when she fought back.
Zoe came through surgery, but not for very long. The trauma was too much for the old dog, and she died that night. She had been with the Georges since she was 6 weeks old.
George retrieved her dog's body in a bag. The vet's staff advised her not to take it out.
“They said, ‘You don't want to see this. It's not a pretty sight.'”
George buried Zoe in the backyard. Her grandsons, who were kept away until the pit bulls were removed, will make her a grave marker.