Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dog attack in Taunton's Weir neighborhood shakes owner

By Mark Larocque, Raynham Call

Weir resident Sean Jack was walking his dog Keefton, a black 15-pound Bichon Shi Tzu, in a park on the neighborhood’s East Water Street last weekend when his pet was suddenly pulled away from him.
“There was no time to react,” said Jack, 37, explaining that another dog that appeared to be a pit bull ran at full speed from behind them and brutally attacked Keefton. “I tried to pull my dog into my arms from his leash. Before I could do that the pit bull latched on to him and started attacking (Keefton) viciously. My dog was in shock. Screaming. Barking. Yelping. He didn’t know what was going on.”
Jack said he grabbed the attacking dog by the collar. The dog released Keefton, and Jack yelled out, asking who the owner was.
“I was terrified,” he said. “I’m a grown man. I thought I was going to get mauled as well.”
 Jack said that five minutes later the owner of the dog came running out of a house on the street, claiming that her 12-year-old niece took the dog out for a walk but wasn’t strong enough to hold it.
Jack said he didn’t report the incident and immediately brought Keefton to New England Animal Hospital in West Bridgewater.
“I wasn’t able to get all her information,” he said. “I ran home with the dog in my hand and went to the vet. I was mainly concerned about my dog.”
Jack complained that, although the attacking dog had a leash, it didn’t have a choker leash. The cost of stitches to repair extensive neck and abdominal injures was $2,642.
Veterinarians told the family that putting Keefton to sleep may be a wise decision, he said. The dog now has a fractured femur and needs a hip replacement, Jack said.
His wife Lisa started a fundraising effort via the Internet using a service provided by ChipIn on her Facebook page. Lisa Jack said the initial work to keep Keefton alive was so expensive that they do not have enough money to afford to the hip replacement.
“I don’t think the stitches could be counted,” Lisa Jack said. “The wound in his neck was so deep that his trachea was exposed. If my husband didn’t get that pit bull to let go of the dog when he did his jugular would have been punctured and he would have bled out right there.”
The dog now stays inside the house and can’t control its bodily functions, Lisa Jack said.
Lisa Jack said she has two young children who are very attached to the dog, which they got for Christmas in 2008. The family bought Keefton from a breeder in Oklahoma because its fur doesn’t cause allergies.
The mother said that there is a pit bull problem in Taunton, and that the attack on Keefton was an example of it.
“There was a pit bull loose in my yard this morning,” she said last week. “There are pit bulls everywhere and they always seem to be loose. I’m basically trying to get the word out. I don’t think people realize the details of when something happens like this.”
However, Taunton’s animal control officer, Manuel Massa, said that pit bulls shouldn’t be singled out as a dangerous dog.
“Every dog is different,” Massa said. “We’ve had Labs here that are very nasty and there are pitbullls that will lick you to death. We actually get more calls about Labs than we do pit bulls, far more. ... Unfortunately, people do have to be responsible for their pets, keep them on a leash and avoid contact with dogs they don’t know.”
Massa said that owners of dogs caught without leashes are fined $20 on the first offense. He said the fine can go up to $500, if it happens four times in a year.
The animal control officer said that any incident in which a dog bites a person or another dog should be reported. He said that this allows the animal control unit to make sure the dog is up to date on shots, and provides documentation of the incident.
“Any dog bite, I don’t care if it’s a scratch, they should call animal control,” Massa said. “Definitely take the animal to the vet or, if it’s a person, right to the hospital, but make sure to call when it happens. Some people don’t report it. When they really want to do something about, it is too late. It should be really brought up the day it happens.”
Taunton’s animal control office can be reached at 508-822-2150 during the week, while animal control calls are fielded by the Taunton Police Department on weekends at 508-824-7522.

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