HASTINGS -- A farmer who feared for the safety of her 4-year-old boy shot and killed a pit bull Thursday, seconds after it stopped attacking one of her cows and started to charge them.
Barbara Secorsky, 41, and her child were feeding their livestock around 7:30 a.m. when they saw the black pit bull attacking one of their cows in a pasture close by.
She ran back inside her home to grab a rifle, according to the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office. When she returned to the pasture, the dog had latched onto the cow's chest.
Secorsky shouted at the dog, which released the cow and charged at her and her son, the report said. She shot the dog several times.
The dog belonged to Michael Blanton, 38, a nearby neighbor. He declined to comment.
This isn't the first time Secorsky has had to defend her livestock from Blanton's pit bull.
A St. Johns County Animal Control official said Blanton's dog was involved in an attack against Secorsky's goat earlier this month. Blanton was found guilty in a St. Johns County courtroom two weeks ago and was fined up to $500 for the attack but was still able to keep the dog, said Paul Studivant, division chief of Animal Control.
Blanton will not face charges this time. Secorsky told deputies that she would work out a settlement with Blanton outside the courtroom.
Studivant said that if the dog had not been shot and killed, it would have been confiscated anyway.
"Two attacks in one month deems the animal dangerous," he said.
Animal Control is finding that pit bulls are over-bred in the county and now fill the majority of the county's animal shelters, Studivant said.
"We used to see a lot of these dogs in the rural areas of the county, but we're starting to see them through the city now, too," Studivant said.
Studivant said there is not a common breed among the dangerous dog cases he investigates.
"For every good dog, there is a bad one, too," he said.
According to dogsbite.org, a public education website that releases research on dog attacks, six out of 10 human deaths by dog attacks in the U.S. recorded this year were by pit bulls.
The St. Augustine Record
Update June 15, 2010 9:59pm - The following article is by Justine Griffin, The St. Augustine Record:
Animal lover pulls together help for family of attacked cow
Debby Smith, a Realtor with Watson Realty on St. Augustine Beach, is an animal lover.
That's why when she read in The Record about a pit bull attacking a cow in Hastings late last month, she knew she had to get involved.
"I remember reading the story and thinking about how terribly tragic the whole situation was," Smith said. "And then I saw [the cow's owner] on the 6 o'clock news. I knew I just had to help any way I could."
Smith sent out a company-wide e-mail the next day to other Realtors in the county requesting their time and donations to help Secorsky's family and her cow. Through her efforts, Smith was able to raise enough money to pay a local veterinarian to treat the cow three days after the attack.
Barbara Secorsky shot and killed a neighbor's pit bull in May after it not only attacked her cow, Fred, but lunged at her 4-year-old son. Although Fred survived the initial attack, Secorsky was forced to put him down Tuesday after an infection spread from the deep wounds on his chest.
"Caring for an animal this big is expensive," Secorsky said. "Debby went above and beyond and I can't thank her enough."
Fred was taking antibiotics three times a day, but the three days the animal went from being attacked to being treated allowed the infection to get under his skin, Secorsky said.
Workers from the Flagler Land Management offered to lend a hand Tuesday morning by digging a hole large enough to bury Fred on Secorky's property. The offered their services for free and brought their own equipment, Secorsky said.
"It's not easy to dig a hole large enough for a cow," said Mitzi Skeen, the district secretary for Flagler Land Management. "Since we're surrounded by the agriculture community out here, we try to help out whenever we can."
Even though Fred was going to be used for meat one day, Secorsky said she couldn't help but get attached to the 1-year-old cow since she spent so much time treating and caring for him these last few weeks.
"He was just the biggest lump of love," Secorsky said. "He just loved to be pet and cared for."
Fred was the only cow Secorsky had on the property. He was valued at $1,500.
A neighbor, Michael Blanton, owned the pit bull and had promised to buy Secorsky another cow. She said that was the agreement they had settled out of court.
Fred wasn't the first animal that Blanton's pit bull had attacked. Secorsky said that the dog had killed her pig, seven rabbits and eight chickens before.
"It's just sad because this whole situation could have been avoided," Smith said. "Maybe if that dog was raised differently both of these animals wouldn't be dead now."
Even though Smith and Secorsky have never met face-to-face, Secorsky said she can't thank her enough.
"There are some great people in this community," she said. "Even though it was a bad outcome, these wonderful people came to give their time and effort."