The verdict was a sad sigh of relief for the Costilla family.
On Dec. 9, the dog mauled Israel Costilla after the boy entered a home shared by his great aunt, Lisa Peden, and her then-roommate, Rayetta Trigg — the pit bull’s owner.
Fresh from a Saturday evening shopping trip, Peden, Israel and Israel’s brother and mother “walked in the door. (Israel) started petting Trouble, and Trouble attacked him,” Peden said. “It happened in two minutes.”
Trigg, who was in New Mexico visiting her father, did not witness the attack.
At the hearing Thursday, Peden said she pulled the dog off Israel and dragged it outside. Then she and Israel’s mother, Andi Costilla, frantically called 911.
Officer Green of the San Angelo Police Department saw Israel lying on a stretcher when he arrived.
“It looked like part of the child’s face had been chewed off completely,” Green told the court.
After calling Animal Control Services, Green entered the residence and made a second gruesome discovery:
“I saw what looked like part of a child’s face in a pool of blood.”
Officer Green checked on the pit bull outside, testifying in court that he kept one hand on his gun for safety, afraid the pit bull might attack again.
Israel was taken by ambulance to Shannon Medical Center, where he underwent emergency surgery.
“He ended up getting 300 stitches,” said Ana Costilla, Israel’s grandmother. “He didn’t get out of surgery until around 2:30, maybe almost 4 o’clock in the morning.”
An Animal Control officer collected the pit bull, which spent the next 10 days under quarantine before being released to Trigg.
Israel will spend a considerable time healing physically, emotionally and mentally, family members said.
In the meantime, Israel Costilla hides his face from others — and himself.
“He wears a mask out in public,” Ana said. “You know, he doesn’t even like seeing himself in the mirror, so every time he goes to take a shower, we have to take the mirror down in the bathroom.”
“He has to eat with a baby fork and spoon. He has to drink out of sippy cup or use a straw because (the pit bull) took most of his bottom lip.”
Trigg represented herself during the hearing. Her closing statement was an emotional and tearful plea to Presiding Municipal Court Judge Allen Gilbert to save her pit bull.
“He’s all I got,” she sobbed.
The state prosecutor argued the pit bull is dangerous and should be released to Animal Control [to be euthanized].
After private deliberation, Gilbert returned to the courtroom and delivered his verdict.
“These decisions are always difficult because there’s a lot of emotions on both sides,” Gilbert said.
He then pronounced that Trigg was harboring an animal “declared to be a nuisance,” in line with Chapter 3 of the city’s animal control ordinance, which states If the court determines an animal is “vicious or dangerous” or “has bitten or attacked any person,” the court may order the dog be delivered to the animal services director and be destroyed.
Gilbert then ruled the pit bull would be taken from its owner and given to animal services. Trigg was fined and further ordered to pay restitution to the Costilla family for Israel’s medical expenses.
Outside the courtroom, the Costilla family appeared relieved but solemn.
On the other side of the closed doors, Trigg could be heard sobbing loudly.
This is the mentality of Rayetta Trigg
“It’s a sad day all around,” said Israel’s mother.
How to help
A gofundme.com page has been set up to help with Israel's medical expenses
(Standard Times - January 12, 2018)