A Dog Pack Attacked My Cat: What If Next Time, It’s a Child?
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My name is Chris and I’ve been a resident of Blue Lake since June 2012. My wife and I have been the owner of our cat, Juju, since we adopted her from a Chico shelter in 2008 when she was just a month old.
My purpose in writing this email is to hopefully find answers and closure for an incident that occurred yesterday morning in our townhouse complex, which resulted in the death of Juju by a brutal attack by four dogs.
A little background on Juju: She was 7 1/2 years old and had gradually converted to a full-time outside cat since we’ve lived in Blue Lake. The odd thing is that she never ventured far from the complex parking lot that we lived in. All of our neighbors can attest that she was the sweet community cat who was visible at all times. Survival was never an issue with her as we knew she preferred to sleep outside at night, but always was at the door in the morning to receive her bowl of food. She could also outrun and outsmart dogs who randomly showed up in the neighborhood from time to time.
Now to the incident: It was around 10 am this last Friday, and my daughter and I were making breakfast when we heard snarling dogs followed by yelling. No sounds that sounded similar to a cat in peril so I figured it was neighbors with dogs who lived a little further away.
Unfortunately I was completely off the mark as one of my neighbors came racing to our door and started banging as hard as she could. When she opened the door my heart dropped because of the look of terror on her face and the fact that she could hardly get words out. At first I thought she might’ve run over our cat, but she screamed “that my cat had been expletive by a pack of dogs.” Another set of neighbors were coming out the door as they had watched the dogs tear my cat apart from their upstairs window.
Somehow Juju had managed to crawl under a car where she lay in shock on her side. The dogs had run off, but I could hear them howling in the distance. With the help of my neighbors, I managed to load up Juju and my child so that we could take her to her vet. I called my wife at work to inform her of the situation so that she could come take our daughter away from the awful nightmare I found myself in.
I won’t get into a play-by-play of all the details of the vet visit, but I will say they did they best that they could with Juju. Tragically, her wounds were too lethal and she was in shock to give her the immediate rescue that she needed. The vet couldn’t even give her a blood test because she went into shock and passed away twice (he was able to revive her), before she passed away for good. She didn’t have much of a chance as she died in just three hours from when her attack occurred.
After I finalized the remains process for Juju and paid the bill, I drove home to get a better understanding of what had happened and who the dogs were. I knew that my neighbor who had come to my door had called in the attack to City Hall while I was packing Juju and my child up to take them to the vet.
As soon as I pulled into the driveway, both sets of neighbors who had helped earlier and another from the other side of the complex who had witnessed the incident came out to find out what Juju’s situation was. I gave them the bad news that she had died from internal bleeding, which upset them immensely. They in turn told me that animal control had answered the call and had two of the four dogs in custody. The two other dogs were allowed to be with their master who happened to own all four of them. The owner wasn’t a resident of Blue Lake, but had come into town to apply at one of the businesses in town. While she was inside the business, the dogs had escaped through a tarp covering the hole where a window should’ve been in her truck that was parked 500 feet from our complex.
My neighbor gave me the case number and phone number that I should call to get in contact with Animal Control. I thanked her, but wasn’t satisfied as I wanted to gather more information on the actual attack. I interviewed the witnesses that had come to my aid (3 different townhouse residents/4 people) and was able find another witness in another townhouse that saw the whole thing from her upstairs window. All of these individual’s had the same story when it came to the dogs and how it all unfolded.
The Attack: All the witnesses have said that Juju had been maneuvered by the four dogs in a coordinated pack mentality, which left her circled by them as they went to attack her in the parking lot. The neighbors couldn’t shake the graphic memory of how viciously and quickly the four dogs attack Juju. They each had a piece of her body in their mouth as they began to tear her apart.
All my neighbors have said they started to scream as they tried to run for the door to help the cat. Unfortunately, the efficiency of the attack lasted about 30 seconds, which was all it took to kill my cat. The consistent message from my neighbors was that the dogs were brutal, trained, and seemed experienced in this sort of attack like they’ve done it before.
During the time that I retrieved Juju and departed Blue Lake, my neighbors tried to tail the pack to get a picture of them to see where they headed. They reported that the dogs walked around the Emporium area in a pack, were aggressive toward human individuals, and then chased one of my neighbors as they returned to our complex where they proceeded to sniff around their attack area.
The Fallout: I was able to get in touch with the Animal Control officer who had responded to the case. The officer explained to me that the owner was given a citation, but the dogs were release back into her custody pending an investigation. The officer explained that an investigation must conclude that the dogs have had a history of violent incidents before to have some type of punishment. If this is their first offense, they get a write-up in their file, but they get to continue living with their owner.
What I find mind-boggling is that the officer didn’t ask me or any of the witnesses the details of the attack. Those who witnessed the attack have said over and over that the dogs were a danger to the public.
Sadly, the owner has repeatedly defended them saying that she has cats as well and they’ve never been aggressive towards them. This may be, but the fact is they escaped the owner’s vehicle and in short-order were able to track down my elusive cat on territory she was familiar with, coordinate an attack of brutality, and then act aggressive towards humans.
This is not a condemnation of the owner as I was able to contact her and explain that we had incurred a huge vet bill in an effort to save Juju. She apologized for her dog’s behavior and our loss, and is willing to work with us to repay the debt.
What I can’t stand is that this is the type of systematic process that citizens have to abide by. My family and neighbors are left with a dead cat and horrifying images that will haunt us for some time. I’ve talked to many pet owners over the last 24 hours who have similar encounters with aggressive dogs. Almost all of the individuals I have spoke to have lamented that this is the ways thing go because that’s how the county has set it up. A citation, report, and write-up of violence in the dog’s file isn’t enough in my opinion.
There’s got to be a better solution to holding dogs and their owners accountable. I have to ask because many I’ve spoken to have brought this up: What happens the next time the dog on file attacks and it isn’t a cat or chicken, but a child instead?