SLT family calls for responsible pet owners after dog death
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — Just days after losing their miniature schnauzer dog, “Luna,” to an attack by two pitbulls, a family spoke about a loss of their four-legged family member. But days after analyzing the circumstances that led to their dog’s death, one thing was clear, the problem is not the breed, they said.
According to Jose Luis Gomez and two of his daughters, Nataly and Stephanie Gomez, it all occurred during a seemingly routine afternoon on Thursday, when Jose and his youngest daughter, Cristal Gomez, were out walking their dog Luna. They were following their usual path at about 6:30 p.m. in the area of Julie Lane, when the two heard barking dogs, which was not unusual in that area of the street, but Jose asked Cristal to pick up Luna to avoid any issues.
It was Jose who heard the first dog running behind them, a white 10-year-old pitbull. After that, it all happened quickly. The dog ran up to them and either ripped Luna out of Cristal’s arms or Luna Lunged at pit bull, the family said. Before too long, a second dog, a gray 14-year-old pit bull, had joined the struggle.
“I wrestled with the dog,” Jose said, “because I thought he was going to bite [Cristal], but what happened was the dog grabbed Luna by the head, and I knocked the dog down with Luna. When we fell down [Luna] fell to the ground and the other dog, the gray one, attacked her. And when the other dog broke free from my grip, they both attacked her.”
At one point Jose grabbed one of the dogs by the mouth and tried to pry Luna free, but he wasn’t able to. The attempt injured his hand and left him with a swollen finger, but the dog did not break his skin. Jose was taken to Barton Memorial Hospital for care.
A few moments later there were several neighbors out on the street calling 9-1-1 and attempting to help Jose and Cristal. One person, Nataly said, hit one of the dogs with a skateboard and knocked it out.
Luna was still breathing by the time the ordeal was over, but she was badly injured. Without many options or chances for survival, the Gomez’ gave the OK to euthanize her.
It was unclear why the pitbulls were roaming free, but Jose thinks they likely escaped from their homes.
Still, though the incident was hurtful, the Gomez’ wanted to make it clear they do not blame the pitbull breed for what happened. They just want pet owners to be more responsible, to receive a reimbursement for their father’s medical bills and justice for their dog.
“It’s sad that pitbulls get attacked,” Nataly said.
“We’re not discriminating, or anything, against pitbulls. It’s just the owners that need to know how to educate their dogs,” Stephanie said.
“There’s many people who are very against pitbulls just because they think pitbulls are vicious dogs, [that] they’re dangerous dogs … but in reality it’s not really like that,” she added.
The Gomez daughters have regular interaction with pitbulls, they said. They noted an aunt of theirs who, ironically, owns a pitbull and a schnauzer that get along well.
They insisted that it could be any type of dog that attacks another, and that it’s up to the owners to educate their pets and to treat the pet like they’re supposed to be treated, like family.
They also said that it is the responsibility of owners of powerful pets to keep them secured.
According to the El Dorado County Animal Services, all animal bites must be investigated.
For dogs, depending on the situation (the severity of the bite, the behavior of the dog and whether the dog has a history of aggressive behavior) the investigating officer may require the dog to be quarantined or take additional action steps.
El Dorado County ordinance requires dog owners to keep their dogs confined to their property in an enclosed area or on a leash at all times.
According to an Animal Services activity card about the incident, the owner of the attacking dogs surrendered the two dogs over for quarantine on Friday.
The owner will decide if the dogs are signed over for euthanasia after the quarantine has ended.
Robert Gerat, Supervising Animal Services Officer, said Tuesday that he had not had any problems with the two dogs. He added that there did not to appear to be any record of previous incidents.
Still, Animal Services will file a petition with El Dorado County Superior Court to request that the dogs be deemed potentially dangerous. If a second incident occurs, Animal Services will likely file a petition to deem the dogs vicious and will recommend they be euthanized.
“It is important that dog owners take their responsibilities seriously when it comes to controlling their dogs,” Gerat said in an email statement. “Property should be checked regularly to ensure the fence is secure and the dogs should always be on leash when off the property. Roaming dogs, particularly those that are exhibiting aggressive behavior, should be reported to Animal Services at (530) 573-7925.”