An official with PACC, which handles animal control for Sahuarita, acknowledged the agency didn't thoroughly investigate the first attack until after the second, fatal attack, because claims they are 'short-staffed' and has a backlog of hundreds of calls.
Hey morons. If you've got "hundreds" of backlogged calls, here's an idea. Throw out all the barking complaints. Throw out all the calls about stray cats roaming around. Throw out all the 'stray, non-aggressive dog roaming loose' calls. Throw out all the 'cats peeing in my bushes' calls. Throw out all the 'lady walks her dog on a leash and lets it poop in my yard' calls.
FOCUS ON THE VICIOUS DOG CALLS!
“I crossed the street and when I got to the other side, we came face to face with this loose dog. I hadn’t seen it,” said the woman, who the Sahuarita Sun is not identifying because she is a victim.
“It sniffed Kuro and then just attacked. It latched onto his throat. I was yelling at it and I started hitting the dog and it wasn’t responding at all.”
Another woman ran across the street and started hitting the dog, too, the woman said.
“It just wouldn’t let go and I thought my dog was dead,” she said. Moments later, a man jumped his fence and started “whaling” on the dog and it finally let go, the woman said.
“It was just so traumatizing,” she said. “I’m a small person and I realized in that moment how weak and helpless I was against this dog.”
She said the group of strangers helped avoid a worse outcome for 14-pound Kuro.
“They really saved my dog’s life. If it had gone on any longer, he’d be dead,” she said. “I didn’t get any of their names and I just want to thank everyone who helped out.”
Friends called the Sahuarita Police Department as she rushed Kuro to a vet.
According to PACC records, a man followed the pit bull to the backyard of a home in the 800 block of West Camino Capria and confined it. A police officer contacted PACC, which sent a field officer to impound the pit bull, later identified as 9-year-old Gabby.
Shortly before 3 p.m. that day, the vicious pit bull was released to her owners, Gilbert Guerra and Yesenia Gonzalez.
“At that point in time, we only had third-party information. We didn’t have any witnesses,” Ricci said.
Although Sahuarita police had provided the PACC officer with the address of Kuro’s owner, PACC didn’t have the staffing to make contact with her immediately, Ricci said.
The incident was classified as a Priority Two call and joined a queue of more than 150 other Priority Two calls, which typically take PACC officers seven to 14 days to respond to, Ricci said.
I don't believe that they have 150 other calls sitting there. That's impossible. Do a FOIA and prove it. You're telling me they have officers in trucks, driving around and not one single person could drive to the victim's house -- WHEN YOU CLAIM THAT THE ONLY OTHER OPTION IS TO RELEASE A VICIOUS DOG BACK TO ITS OWNERS??!!
Priority One calls involve such things as rabies exposure, bite calls in which the animal is still at large, and calls where first responders such as police need immediate assistance, Ricci said. PACC has five or six officers handling pending calls, which often exceed 400, he said.
“We do the best we possibly can with the resources available to us,” Ricci said.
Gabby was released after her owners paid $128, which included an impoundment fee and a late licensing fee because they had let her license lapse, Ricci said.
Second attack results in a dog being mauled to death by the same pit bull, thanks to the Pima Animal Care Center
Four days later, a 10-year-old girl and her friend were collecting donations door-to-door for a cancer charity with the girl's 2-year-old dog, Buddy, according to PACC reports.
When they arrived at the Guerra/Gonzalez home, the mother of one of the girls told the Sahuarita Sun that the other girl went to the door. Her daughter stood in the driveway with both leashed dogs.
“My daughter was so scared she let go of the leash and grabbed the other dog,” she said.
Several neighbors heard the girls’ screams and ran to help, according to reports. One used a stick to beat the pit bull and pried its jaws apart, releasing Buddy.
The girls ran to a home across the street.
“I thought both girls had been attacked,” the mother said. “I saw (the friend) covered in blood and I said, ‘Oh my God, what happened? What’s going on?’ and (the girl) said, ‘It’s not mine, it’s my dog’s.’”
Both girls were sobbing and the dogs' owner pleaded for help but it was too late, the mother said.
“My daughter told me, ‘The dog attacked Buddy and I let the leash go. It’s my fault. It’s my fault,” she said.
The woman called 911 and was transferred to PACC. She then called the other girl’s mother.
Gonzalez arrived home a short time later, according to the mother.
“The first thing she said was, ‘Oh, they’re going to put her down. It’s happened before,’” she said. “I asked her, ‘Why do you still have the dog if it’s happened before?’ But she never answered me.”
PACC arrived and took the pit bull away.
The Sahuarita Sun could not reach the pit bull’s owners or the family of the girl who lost her dog.
Adam Ricci, field services manager at the Pima Animal Care Center (PACC) admitted that NO EFFORTS were made to reach Kuro’s owner in the FOUR DAYS between the time they discovered they had a wrong phone number for her and the time of the pit bull's fatal attack on the second dog.
Related: Arizona: After woman is terrorized by her neighbor's pit bulls, Pima Animal Care Manager ADAM RICCI refuses to enforce Pima County's own vicious dog laws. Why? Turns out he's founder of a pit bull advocacy group!
After Buddy was killed, the pit bull was impounded again and the PACC officer, using the address previously provided by Sahuarita police, went to Kuro’s owner and asked if she could identify the pit bull, which she did.
Sahuarita is among several communities that contract with PACC for animal control services. The town's contract ends June 30. Last month, Teri Bankhead, assistant to town manager Kelly Udall, said Sahuarita will likely extend the contract despite a 140 percent increase over the last four years.
In that interview for a different story, Bankhead said Sahuarita receives few complaints about PACC’s services.
“We’re always looking into making sure we get the best service, the best response times, but yes, generally, I’d say we’re happy with their services,” she said.
Owners given tickets
Knowing that they had screwed up royally by not doing anything about the pit bull after the first attack, officers quickly issued the pit bull’s owners two “leash law” citations and two “keeping dangerous animal” citations and ordered to appear in Sahuarita Municipal Court on March 21.
They were also advised that if they wanted to bring the pit bull home, they would be required to appear before a public hearing officer and abide by conditions geared toward keeping the public safe.
Gonzalez initially said she wanted to bring the pit bull home, but the couple ended up relinquishing the dog - likely after they saw all the restrictions and costs involved in order to keep the killer dog should it be deemed vicious in court - and she was euthanized Feb. 27.
Each “keeping dangerous animal” citation carries a fine of at least $100 and no more than six months' jail time. A first-time lease-law violation is punishable by a fine of up to $300 and a second-time violation carries the same fine. The couple could also be ordered to pay restitution, not to exceed $1,000 per victim, Ricci said.
Kuro, who is 9, underwent surgery for lacerations to his throat and was hospitalized overnight, her owner said. Her vet bill came to nearly $1,500.
“Kuro’s fine now, but he doesn’t have as much spunk,” her owner said.
The woman relayed her story to a Sahuarita police officer the day of the attack, but was unaware PACC officers needed to speak to her as well. She felt “just terrible” when she heard about the attack on Buddy.
“I feel really bad about the girls; I almost feel like it was my fault he got back out, but I thought I did my due diligence by talking to the police. I thought the dog was still locked up,” she said. “I had no idea they would let it go home. Why would they? It didn’t make any sense to me.”
(Sahuarita Sun - March 10, 2017)
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- Arizona: After woman is terrorized by her neighbor's pit bulls, Pima Animal Care Manager ADAM RICCI refuses to enforce Pima County's own vicious dog laws. Why? Turns out he's founder of a pit bull advocacy group!