Residents of the 2400 block of Seventh Street in Berkeley, be warned. A couple of weeks ago my sister’s little poodle, Floy, got her throat ripped out by a neighbor’s pit bull. A young man was walking past our home with this vicious dog on a leash with no muzzle, while Floy was happily romping in her yard. Being a friendly sort, the poodle ran over to greet this dog, and with no warning the pit bull seized her by the throat. There was a terrible struggle, in which my sister’s hand was somewhat mangled. The young man had no idea what to do, so he just kept beating his fist on the dog’s head until it finally relaxed its jaws enough to pull Floy loose. But, oh it was so awful! Her little jaw was crushed and her throat literally tore out. My God, it could have been the little girl who lives across the street! Why didn’t this animal have a muzzle on?!
The neighbors who saw the attack wanted to call the police, but did not at my sister’s request. My sister still will not report this attack. She at first thought the pit bull was a beloved family pet and feels that the attack was her fault, since (although in her own yard) she didn’t have Floy on a leash. She also did not want to cause a financial hardship to the owner of the dog. However, it turns out that the dog is not a pet. The woman is fostering these pit bulls for a local animal shelter. She cannot possibly know anything about the animals she takes in, except that they were probably abused, or they wouldn’t have wound up in a shelter.
The woman agreed to pay only a portion of the vet bill, although I don’t understand why she does not feel responsible for the entire bill. My sister is disabled, on a fixed income, with no savings, and her credit rating wrecked by the ex-husband (as am I, so I can’t help much). We must carefully budget our money, and are often forced to skip meals towards the end of the month. This pitt bull attack cost us every penny we had budgeted for the month. We still owe the vet money and have no groceries. Floy now requires a special kind of food (what with having her jaw and throat ripped off), which we cannot afford. Right now we can only feed Floy some bread soaked in milk, because the special food is so expensive. Fortunately, a kind neighbor has offered to purchase a case and bring it over this evening.
I think that the animal shelters should require their foster volunteers to take some sort of training course teaching them what to do in case of an attack. I also think that this woman needs to walk these dogs herself, and not leave the task to her son or anyone else (unless they too have been trained what to do in such an emergency). The dogs should be muzzled at all times, in case they accidentally get out of the yard. They should absolutely not foster these dogs to people in neighborhoods with children. And, of course, I would also like an apology for all the pain, sorrow, and hardship this highly irresponsible woman has caused.
Sally Tarver is a West Berkeley resident.