This week’s post won't be light or funny. It is the story of something horrific that happened at a PetSmart on a Sunday morning.
The sun was shining brightly. The temperatures were in the 60s. It was the first day people left their jackets at home and wore their short sleeve shirts. The weather made everyone at ease. Winter was over. The carefree days of summer were in view.
A puppy training class was scheduled to begin in fifteen minutes. Some students had arrived early to get their dogs acclimated to the store before class started.
A young woman with a corgi was talking to the mother and her adolescent daughter. At the end of their lead was a four-year-old long-haired dachshund.
A young man with a pit bull entered the store. The pit bull had recently had a litter. Her long hanging nipples were the sign of a dog that had been over bred. When approached by staff the dog backed away. The man said he had the dog for a month. He adopted it from the city shelter. He had been working with the dog. Now he wanted to socialize it. Perhaps the fact that he lingered while looking at the muzzles should have been a clue. But store associates have been taught not to judge by appearance.
The mother with the dachshund handed her daughter the leash and went to the grooming salon at the back of the store to make an appointment. She left her daughter by the end cap to the right of the dog food aisle. The pit bull owner selected a 24-pound bag of Blue Wilderness and placed it on his left shoulder. He held the leash with his right.
They walked around the corner. The pitbull and dachshund suddenly were face to face. Without even a growl the pit opened it’s mouth and bit the puppy on the snout sinking its teeth in and clamping on. The puppy’s screams were the thing of nightmares. The little girl yelled, dropped the leash and ran for her mother. The woman with the corgi followed.
It happened within a foot of where Daddy was standing. Knowing if the pitbull shook the puppy, it would kill it. Daddy jumped on the pit bull’s back to keep it down.
The pit bull owner yelled its name, then said it had never done anything like this before. He, the store manager and two associates hit the pit bull and tried to open its mouth to free the puppy.
The trainer opened the kit with the tools to stop dog fights. She took out the air horn and blasted it in the pit bull's ears. It would not let go. She then sprayed two cans of scintilla in the pitbull’s eyes. It still would not let go. The trainer picked up the signs that display the weekly deals brought them over her head and smashed them near the pitbull. None of the recommended remedies worked. The puppy still screeched. Blood pooled on the floor.
Convinced that the pit bull would never let go Daddy ran to the back of the store. He found a heavy wrench. As he walked to the front with it he was unsure if he could use the weapon on the dog, but nothing was working, and the puppy was being killed.
Moments before Daddy got to the scene the trainer and another associate each grabbed one of the pit bull's back legs and lifted up and away like trying to break a massive wishbone. This caused the pit bull to relinquish its grip. It snapped at its dad opening a wound on his arm. Then the owner pulled the dog down the aisle.
The store manager and an associate ran out of the store with the puppy. They drove to the animal hospital ten minutes away.
The mother and daughter emerged from the grooming center. The young girl looked like she had encountered a monster. Tears ran down her face. The staff hugged and tried to comfort her but how do you comfort someone who just saw their dog almost eaten?
Animal control was contacted. The pit bull owner agreed to stay. He could have left. Who was going to stop them? He was placed in a secure back room with the pitbull.
The trainer got information from both parties. The mom was given directions to the hospital.
The staff at the store were like a shell shocked army on the losing side of a battle. They were stunned but still had to do their job.
The animal control officer arrived and talked with the pit bull owner. The ACO determined that something had occurred between the two animals which caused the incident. She did not think the pit bull was dangerous and let them go. They passed the associate washing up the puppy blood on the way outside.
The puppy was in shock. When his mom and the girl arrived at the vet, he still managed to wag his tail. Miraculously the puppy only had a few jaw fractures. After two weeks he was scheduled to come home.
What happened was the perfect storm of events: If the man had not lingered over the muzzles, if the mother had not gone into grooming, if either had just moved a few feet away. These were the little events that led to a tragedy.
The only positive note was the humans who with little regard for their safety worked so hard to free the puppy.
This is not a negative pitbull post. There are thousands of happy, calm, non-threatening pit bulls in the world. This is just the report of something that happened on a sunny Sunday morning. And, it is a warning to remember when you are with your dogs in public you need to be hyper-aware of what is going on around. Danger can develop in less than a second.