The Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service is investigating a deadly attack by two pit bulls on another dog near a school.
Spokesman-Review photographer Dan Pelle was walking Koko, his 11-year-old Australian Kelpie-spaniel mix, in an open field near his South Hill home Thursday.
Pelle has walked Koko off-leash in that field for 10 years and said he knows many other neighbors who do the same with their dogs. At 2:20 p.m., Pelle saw two teenagers with two fawn-colored pit bulls he didn't recognize standing about 30 yards away, he said.
"You see these other dogs and you know who they are," Pelle said. "We've never seen those dogs or those kids before."
One of the dogs began running toward Koko, followed by the other. Pelle called for Koko, who was just a few feet away from him, but couldn't stop the dogs from attacking her.
"I didn't see the kids, but they heard me and immediately they started yelling for their dogs to come back, like they knew they were aggressive," Pelle said. "The first dog approached and sniffed her once then just hit her down."
Pelle tried to beat the pit bulls off Koko with his walking stick, while the two teenagers tried to pull them off.
"The dogs aren't letting go," he said. "I'm beating them as hard as I can, and I get down on my knees, I shove my stick in one of the dogs' mouth."
Pelle knocked one pit bull off, but the dog tackled him to the ground and pinned him, hurting his hand, ankle and back. One of the teenagers shoved the dog off him, and they were able to hold the dogs back while Pelle and Koko ran away.
"We ran for our lives to get out of there," Pelle said, adding that one of the boys was crying and screaming for them to run away.
Koko had injuries to her neck, chest and back legs, Pelle said. The whole attack lasted about two minutes.
"They had ripped her right open," Pelle said.
Koko had to be euthanized by veterinarian Steven Rush after the attack. Rush said the dog was one of the most severely injured he'd ever seen.
"She was just literally getting pulled apart," Rush said.
The two pit bulls could be deemed dangerous and subject to vicious-animal laws, but without interviewing the teenagers SCRAPS can't determine what violations occurred, said SCRAPS Director Nancy Hill.
"The bottom line of the story is I know it's tempting, but people need to keep their dog on a leash," Hill said.
SCRAPS is unaware of dangerous pit bulls or other dog attacks in that area, Hill said. Pelle said the two boys appeared to be high school age.