LANSING â€“ Another small dog mauled by a far larger dog has died.
Una, Vickie Houghtonâ€™s 15-pound terrier-poodle-Chihuahua mix, was tied to theÂ front porch of her house on Southgate Avenue in the Old Everett neighborhoodÂ Tuesday evening.Â
Houghton wasÂ nearby in her living room.
Around 6 p.m., Houghton heard a commotion. She rushed outside to find Una, still chained, on her back with a large dog with long reddish blonde fur on top of Una and biting her.
AÂ young woman with another dog on a leash was looking on, Houghton said, but not trying to stop the attack. Houghton believes she may have been walking two dogs when one slipped its collar.
As Houghton fought to free Una from the mouth of the big dog, she was knocked to the ground.
â€śI was just trying to wrestle with her dog and protect my dog,â€ť she said.
She grabbed the skin of the attacking dog and tried to get it off her dog because there was no collar. A neighbor came running to help.
The young woman handed the neighbor the leash of the other dog and finally somehow got a leash on the attacking dog and pulled it away.
Houghton said the womanÂ apologized and said they werenâ€™t her dogs. But she left without giving her name as Houghton struggled to rise from the ground and check out her dogâ€™s injuries.
After an estimated $2,000 to $3,000 worth of tests at Michigan State Universityâ€™s Veterinary Medical Center that evening, Houghton opted to euthanize Una. The dogÂ had extensive internal injuries and surgery was estimated at $6,000. Houghton couldnâ€™t afford it, and Una mightÂ not have survived the surgery. Houghton will still have to pay for testing and euthanasia.
Houghton, a retired executive secretary at MSU, said she just got Una two weeks ago from her sisterâ€™s friend after the 6-year-old dog snapped at a baby. Una was sweet and starting to bond with her. And she was helping Houghton get more exercise.
â€śThe family I got her from thought sheâ€™d have a good home. I feel so bad that I wasnâ€™t there to protect her,â€ť Houghton said.
Unaâ€™s death followed that of Murphy, an 18-pound Havanese mauled at the DeWitt Dog Park last week. Murphy was euthanized after an 80-pound great Dane and American bulldog mix attacked him.
His owners and others are discussing ways to separate small dogs from large dogs at that park, and township police are still investigating the death. The attacking dog is owned by a woman in Okemos.
The areaâ€™s three public dog parks do not have separate areas for small dogs though Meridian Township is planning to open a small-dog-only park later this summer.
Houghton said herÂ neighbors are searching for the dog that attacked hers. She said the dog was very large and appeared to be a golden retriever mix. The other dog the woman was walking is medium sized with white hair. The womanÂ was young, perhaps in her early 20s, slim with dark hair.
John Dinon, director of Ingham County Animal Control and Shelter, said such a case could be prosecuted under an Ingham County ordinance requiring dogs to be under control. A judge could order restitution to Houghton for â€śdestruction of property.â€ť That sounds bad when youâ€™re talking about a dogâ€™s life, but thatâ€™s the law, he said.
He said such attacks are infrequent but do happen a handful of times a year.
â€śItâ€™s so horrific for someone to see their pet killed right before their very eyes. Itâ€™s an awful, awful thing,â€ť he said. â€śThat would be so hard to see.â€ť
A dog owner â€” or, in this case, possibly a friend of the dog owner â€” has a moral and ethical obligation to leave their contact information, Dinon said.
Houghton reported the attack to police and to Ingham County Animal Control. She was told that without an identity on the dog or its owner, thereâ€™s not much to be done.
Dinon said anyone with information about the dog attack should his office at (517)-676-8370.
â€śWeâ€™ll take any tips we can get,â€ť he said.
If the case was prosecuted under the state law, where dogs deemed dangerous can be euthanized, the owner would have the chance to prove to a judge that precautions have been taken to prevent future attacks.
A true dog lover should have the guts to come forward, so it doesnâ€™t happen to another dog.
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