Date Submitted March 1, 2022
Submitted By Peggy Sue
WARNING: Reader discretion advised.
This past Friday, February 18th, 2022, I had an outpatient procedure at a local hospital. When I arrived back home, I moved my fur baby, DaKota, a 3-year-old Catahoula, from her 10×20 pen to her 60-foot runner so that she could potty and get some yard time. I was more fatigued than usual following my procedure. I needed to rest my mind and body for a few minutes. Before I settled on the couch, I peeked out the front door to check on DaKota – she was good, laying in our front yard, still on her runner, and enjoying the sunshine. I set my alarm for an hour and a half, settled on the couch, and shut my eyes for a much-needed rest.
I was startled awake to the noises of dogs fighting. I was instantly terrified, and my heart began pounding as I jerked up, realizing what was happening. ‘NO, NO, NO!’ I began screaming. I slid quickly into my flip flops and ran out the front door. Still screaming as I was running, ‘NO, NO, NO!’ And then I see it…one of my worst nightmares. The neighbor’s dog, Hazel, has broken loose, AGAIN. She has a hold on DaKota, AGAIN, and they are fighting, violently growling, and viciously wrestling. I see that DaKota is still attached to her runner so as I am screaming, ‘NO, STOP, NO, STOP!’ I grab a hold of the runner and begin yanking trying to pull them apart. I am weak. They are too strong. This isn’t working. I get closer, still screaming, ‘NO, STOP, NO, STOP!’ Despite desperately jerking on her runner, and screaming with all my might, I am unable to separate them.
I see the neighbor’s other dog, Little Man, DaKota’s best friend, who has always been super sweet to her, standing just a few feet away. His real name is offensive, so I call him Little Man. He is intently watching what is happening. No matter how hard I pulled on DaKota’s runner or how loud I screamed, I could not separate them. Processing what was happening, overwhelming dread joined my feelings of terror as I let go of her runner. Reluctantly, I turned away from the fight and ran toward my house. I have a handgun that I keep right inside my front door. Even though I’m shaking, my heart is pounding, and my chest is on fire from screaming (part of my medical procedure earlier that day included esophagus dilation), I run quickly up the stairs, sling open the door, and grab my loaded gun.
I run back outside toward the traumatizing sight and terrifying sounds of my sweet baby girl being viciously attacked. Still, I did not want to fire. They were moving so fast and were so close together. What if I accidently hit DaKota?! I had to try one more time to stop the fight. I put the holstered gun under my left arm, grabbed DaKota’s runner, and once again began tugging and screaming. Then I notice Little Man moving toward us. More panic begins to set in until I realize that he has latched on to Hazel and is trying to get her off DaKota. What a relief! I took a couple steps back to give Little Man the chance to help me separate them. But somehow in the tussle, he ended up grabbing a hold of DaKota. Now Hazel and Little Man both have a hold on her. I have no choice. I must stop this. I drop the runner, grab the handle of my gun, pull it out of the holster, and flip off the safety as I raise it toward this ferocious sight.
Their heads are all too close together. They are moving too fast. I can’t risk hitting DaKota. But I must fire. Quickly processing, terrified, heart pounding, and then… acceptance. I have no choice. Forced to fire, I have the clearer shot on Little Man, so I fire on him first. My heart is breaking as I aim my gun toward him and pull the trigger. He yelps and runs off in the direction of his house. The explosive sound of the gunshot did not stop Hazel. She still has a hold on DaKota. I have no choice. I am forced to fire a second time. Cautious not to hit DaKota, I aim toward Hazel’s side and pull the trigger. Hazel drops to the ground. I look up for Little Man; he is out of sight. I look back to Hazel; she is dead.
I immediately turn around, run in the house, snatch up my phone, and dial 911. ‘I had to shoot my neighbor’s dog,’ I reported while trying to catch my breath. My heart is pounding so hard, and my chest is on fire, excruciatingly so, a burning that I have never felt before. Still, I call my neighbor to tell her that I had to shoot and kill her dog. Her response was, and I quote, “Well, you did me a favor.’ I am silent for a moment. I begin shaking my head in disbelief. I think, ‘Really?! Did you really just say that to me?!’
Everything happened so, so fast. I was shaking so much when I fired on Little Man. He came back over while we were filing the incident report. He was not aggressive at all and has what looks like a scratch on his back where the bullet grazed him. I am relieved that his injury was not worse. When he joined the fight, he jumped on Hazel. I truly believe he was protecting DaKota, trying to help her. I guess I wasn’t as shaky with that second shot; and the wicked witch is dead.
DaKota should not be suffering AGAIN at the hands of this dog. My poor baby is so miserable and is in so much pain. We have already been repeatedly traumatized by this dog from a prior attack and several attempted attacks. The same dog attacked and nearly killed my sweet DaKota Bear in November of 2020. A report was filed. I also reported the attack to my landlord and asked if I could put up a fence to better protect her. I was told no. Hazel has gotten loose on several other occasions. She would come onto my front porch and try to get to and fight DaKota through the door by ferociously growling, clawing, and gnawing at the front door. Those vicious dog fighting noises are traumatic in themselves and have given me nightmares. Hazel has even tried digging into DaKota’s pen on multiple occasions trying to get to her. With every attempt, DaKota gets so shook up and the trauma starts all over again. I feel relief that we no longer need to worry about Hazel; but it should not have come down to me being forced to kill her.
After attempted attacks, reports were filed. I would also contact my landlord to make them aware of what was happening and once again request permission to put up a fence in order to protect my dog. I was denied every time. I have filed repeatedly and at least three other neighbors have filed reports about the same dog(s). These reports were filed with Animal Control and with the Sheriff’s Office. I must take some responsibility because after the first attack, I made the decision not to have the dog owners arrested. I felt and still feel that that punishment does not fit the crime. Being arrested because your dog gets lose seems unjust. The owner(s) should be required to keep their dog(s) in their yard one way or another (a proper harness, collar, runner, fence, or pen). Once a report is filed, there should be follow through to make sure that the owners comply. Failing to comply should result in fines and repeatedly failing to comply should result in the removal of the dogs.
It is terribly tragic that I was forced to shoot and kill this dog. It is even more tragic that my sweet baby girl got attacked by this dog AGAIN and ended up needing surgery. She is not only dealing with tremendous physical pain and suffering from a second attack (she currently has a drain tube and twelve sutures), but she is also suffering mentally from this trauma. She wines and cries through the night. Every little noise makes her jump and jerk. This is beyond sad. It is devastating and so, so heartbreaking.
This tragedy could have been prevented. There are many parties that need to be held accountable. Considering all the parties that had repeatedly been made aware of the danger and threat that these dogs posed, particularly Hazel, action should have already been taken by one or more of them. This did not have to happen. DaKota and I are the ones left traumatized and suffering because of these negligent dog owners and because despite repeated reports, none of the above parties held the dog owners accountable. DaKota is such a good, good girl. She does not deserve this pain and suffering; neither of us deserve this trauma; and I never, ever should have been forced to fire.