Skip to comments.Dog attack victim, 91, describes bloody fight for life with 80-pound pit-bull
Posted on 05/04/2010 8:25:48 PM PDT by Chet 99
His hand thickly bandaged, 91-year-old Ken Heffren described Tuesday how he fought off a vicious dog attack in his backyard.
Heffren, a feisty World War II veteran and retired telephone company employee, said he was fighting for his life as he tried to fend off the 80-pound pitbull-Rottweiler cross on Sunday afternoon with a hammer and a gardening trowel.
With no-one home, Heffren said his calls for help from neighbors went unanswered for several minutes as the dog came at him. The pitbull cross dug below the fence between Heffren and his neighbor to enter his yard, Auburn Police reported.
Heffren said he had gone into the backyard of his Dairy Road property to bury a piece of concrete to mark a water line. Hed walked toward the back of his one-acre lot with a ballpeen hammer, the trowel and a piece of concrete.
A neighbor at home on the other side of his property had been napping but eventually woke up, heard the commotion and, once he knew what was happening, immediately called the Auburn Police, Heffren said.
Heffren said the pitbull cross had been barking and fighting the wire fence between the two neighbors for the past 1½ weeks and five days earlier, his wife had decided against going into the backyard.
She warned me, Heffren said. She said the dog was crazy.
Heffren said the dog emerged from the underbrush in his yard and attacked him, grabbing the handle of the hammer he was holding in the same hand as the trowel and ripping it away.
Heffren said he held the trowel against his palm to prevent the dog from using its lower jaw to bite upward and clamp down as the upper jaw ripped into his veins and stripped away the skin.
It saved my life, Heffren said Tuesday, as he examined the trowel.
His pants soaked with blood and his hand bleeding profusely, Heffren hung onto a bush with the other hand. He ended up with more than 30 stitches after Auburn Police were summoned by a neighbor and drew enough attention away from him to allow his escape.
The dog came at the police too, Heffren said. "Every time the policeman came forward, it would go at him.
Police used a stun gun to control the dog but it escaped down Dairy Road to Luther Road, where it made its way to the Woodside Village Mobile Home Park, near Highway 49. A second attempt at stunning the dog into submission was unsuccessful.
Due to the aggressive tendencies of the dog and the danger to residents walking in the area, the dog was shot on scene and subsequently died from the gunshot wound, Sgt. Dave Lawicka said in a Monday news release.
Lawicka said Tuesday that Auburn Police are continuing to investigate the incident as one of a vicious dog at large, which is an offense under the municipal code not a criminal offense.
Two neighbors, who declined to give their names, expressed concern about Heffrens injuries but said that they needed to talk to a lawyer before deciding whether to tell their side of the story.
Three other dogs were taken from the neighbors residence and impounded including a 2-month-old pitbull cross puppy now with the Animal Medical Center. Also in police custody and housed at the Placer County Animal Shelter were a Shetland sheepdog mix and a female pitbull mix.
Mike Winters, Placer County Animal Services manager, said the dead pitbull mix was tested and came up negative for rabies.
The other three dogs are being kept while Auburn Police decide whether the Dairy Road residence the dead dog came from was secure enough to safely house the animals, he said.
I used to side with the “Pit Bulls are good dogs, it’s the owner” crowd here for a long time. I still sort of do but prefer to handle this the way laws regarding people are handled. that is, on an individual basis.
That is, when a white man commits a crime, you don’t jail all white people. Likewise with these dogs. To be frank, they are more POTENTIALLY dangerous than a toy poodle, and owners should take responsibility for that when they make the choice to own them.
So it’s pretty simple: When ANY dog attacks, make the owner fully responsible for the outcome. And if serious bodily harm or death is the result, the owner should be held fully accountable, to the point of “involuntary manslaughter” in the latter case. And if it can be proven that he provoked his dog to attack, third degree murder, unless it was a self defense move.
Yeah, couple of my neighbors have pits but they all seem pretty easy going. Stories like this are enough to make a man consider working in his yard with a .40 on the hip or a 12 ga. nearby.
80 lb. dog is gonna be hard to subdue by hand. Any breed.
I think the dog should be put down. What do you think?
This is the fourth serious pit bull attack in the past 12 months or so in my small town of Auburn, California. People are getting fed up with the irresponsibility of the owners ... and we have black bears roaming around up here that don’t cause this much trouble!
Hope it didn’t have rabies.
They should have shot it right away. Forget this tazering crap. I wish it were me and not the old man. They’d have had to surgically remove the trowel and the hammer from the dead carcass.
Dogs of Peace (TM)
Freedom doesn’t allow you to keep a bengal tiger in your backyard because improper care and caging places innocent bystanders in danger. The procedure for owning a pit bull should be the same for owning any other dangerous animal.
And before you cite the 2nd amendment ... there is no right to own a dangerous animal. States and localities can constitutionally regulate.
I think an Auburn city councilman proposed this after the last vicious attack by three pit bulls that nearly killed a young man, but discovered his idea ran counter to California law.
If that's so, then I say let's raise the license fees to an extraordinary level to reflect the extraordinary risk these vicious animals pose to innocent people in populated areas.
They are bred to snap.
General assumption is you left the sarcasm tag off your post.
I completely agree with your suggestion. If a person wants to own a dog that has a higher potential for serious injury or even death, then the owner should be held responsible if that dog does attack another person (and held monetarily responsible if their dog attacks and kills someone else’s pet).
Pits are useless. Even the military won't use them.
Exactly. Dangerous animals should require both licenses to legally obtain/maintain and legal liability should they commit these types of attacks.
Muleskinner thanks for a moment of common since and reality. There are some who will not look at the clear numerical facts of this discussion and defend these dogs even when they kill.
All dogs are ‘easy going’ until they snap.
I don’t know how many pit bull owners I’ve heard quoted in these kinds of stories that have said ‘my dog has always been fine, it’s the first time they ever did that’.
Conversely I never hear that kind of statement from any other kind of dog owner.
The pit bull lovers will love this suggestion. Since they say it is the owner, not the dog, make it a criminal penalty with manadatory jail time mandatory minimum sentence of 1 year.
Yup. Owners MUST BE in control of their animals at all times. That’s either in the house, on a leash, on a line that is more than strong enough, high fences with warnings, electric fence, etc.
It isn’t fair to the animal either. It puts the animal at risk of destruction if they aren’t secured if they get free and attack someone.
They are ticking time bombs. If you have children, do not let them out of your house.
All pit bulls should be put down.
I do not like nor trust pit bulls period. Here is the logistical problem in controlling them. As soon as you start raising fees or outlawing them, the owners will release the dogs to the community instead of taking them to be put down.( and you know that is what they would do) Then we are going to have a huge problem.
Perhaps there’s a CA state law that should be changed.
But he was such a nice-gentle friendly dog, just like a sleeping lion. The man must have done something to provoke him! /s
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