A recent fatal dog attack at Hardberger Park is raising questions about pet safety.
On Saturday, Shelby Mauldin said she took her 6-year-old miniature labradoodle named Maggie to the gated dog park area where dogs are able to roam free. She said that another dog approached Maggie and, without any warning, lunged at her neck. Mauldin said that her dog died from a broken neck and that the dog's owner left before she was able to get his contact information.
After we aired the story, our KENS 5 Facebook page was flooded with concerns and fears about going to the park. Dog owners shared their experiences and reported that other owners had no control over their dogs or did not claim responsibility for their dog's actions. Others posted that owners were not adhering to the designated play areas for large and small dogs.
Michelle Martinez said that she hasn't visited Hardberger Park since February. She has two dogs named Gunner and Kody that are a pit bull, bull dog mixes. Martinez said that during her last visit, her dogs were attacked by two Great Danes. Martinez said that initially, she felt uneasy when the dog's owner walked over next to them.
"Right away, you don't want to jump to conclusions, just like I wouldn't want anyone to jump to conclusions of my dog, that they're mean based on the look, and they were massive," Martinez recalled.
She said that when the dogs attacked Kody, they were leashed but the owner couldn't get them off him.
"I jumped onto the ground, trying to pull him out of the dog's mouth. His whole head was in the dog's mouth. I didn't want to rip his ear off either. I'm trying to do what I can. By then, my fiancée had run. We were literally on the floor of this dog park," Martinez recalled.
She said that during the attack, the dogs punctured Kody's ear. He also suffered an infection in his abdomen.
Martinez said that the owner of the Great Danes waited for awhile but left before park police arrived at the gated area. She said that a witness was able to get the man's license plate number and she filed a report.
District 8 Councilman Manny Pelaez contacted Mauldin to offer his condolences. He plans to contact Animal Care Services and park police to see if there are any policies that need to be reviewed to better protect dogs at the park. Currently, the city's rules state that the use of dog parks is at the citizens' own risk and the owner is responsible for their dog's actions.
San Antonio police have tips to protect your dog should an attack occur:
- Do NOT pick up your dog in an effort to protect him. The attacking dog may leap at you instead (in a bid to get at your dog) and you may be seriously injured just for being in the way. If you are hurt, you won't be able to help your dog.
- Soothe and comfort your dog as best you can afterwards - but be careful. Dogs that are fearful or in pain may bite - even if they're normally very gentle.
- Get the names and phone numbers of any witnesses.
- Note any details you can about the dogs: where they live and their owner. If you heard the owners call the dogs by name, write down the name or leave yourself a voice mail from your cell phone so that you don't forget. Likewise, note the breed, size, and color of the dogs and anything you can about the owner (including license plate number and make of vehicle, if available). Snap a photo with your cell phone if it is safe to do so.
- Sometimes the pet owner may be concerned about your dog and will be helpful and cooperative; other times they may try to simply disappear with their dog or will be uncooperative. Do not put yourself in danger.
- Note the day, the time, and the location.
- Get your dog to the vet, even if he doesn't show any external signs of injury.
- File a complaint as soon as you can.