Dog mauling in Sahuarita raises questions - Tucson News Now

Dog mauling in Sahuarita raises questions

(Source: Tucson News Now) (Source: Tucson News Now)
SAHUARITA, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A 10-year-old girl watched February 21, in Sahuarita, as a pit bull mauled the family pet which later died.

The pit bull was also euthanized by Pima Animal Care Center following two attacks in four days.

PACC, through the County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, issued a statement which says "we deeply regret the unfortunate incident that occurred in Sahuarita." 

According to a report issued by the county, the pit bull was impounded by PACC on February 17 following an attack on a dog which according to police happened in the 18000 block of South Camino Paso Corto in Rancho Sahuarita.

Because no complaint was filed by the victim, PACC, released the pit bull back to its owner, who came to pick it up later in the day.

What's in question is why there was no complaint filed nor any citations issued, which would have held the dog as a vicious dog?

According to multiple reports, the victim notified police and told them her dog was attacked while they were out walking.

PACC impounded the pit bull and was given the phone number of the victim by the police in Sahuarita. PACC did not make contact at the time because the victim had taken her pet to a local veterinarian for treatment and was not at home.

PACC officials said they tried to get in touch with the woman but the number supplied by the Sahuarita Police Department was wrong. No further attempt was made and the case was mismarked, which resulted in no further follow up.

Notifying police is not enough according to the county. A complaint must by filed to PACC, which the victim told the Sahuarita Sun newspaper, she was not aware of. 

Four days after the release, a 10-year-old girl collecting money for a charity with her dog, watched as the pit bull escaped from its home, attacked and mauled her dog, which died from its injuries according to the Sun report. 

Another incident with two dogs occurred in mid-March but PACC was only able to capture one of the dogs according to Sahuarita police.

Three events in a month is very rare in Sahuarita, police say and it's too early to say if it's a trend. 

On March 14, the Marana Town Council severed its ties to PACC saying it's reason to do so is because of "service issues." It pays about $240,000 a year for services. 

Sahuarita operates under the same IGA with Pima County to provide animal control services. It complained last year that costs have spiked to more than $45,000 this year, up from $18,000 four years ago. 

However, the county also provides free spay and neuter costs to the community and rebates license fees, which in Sahuarita nearly covers its entire costs, according to county numbers.

Part of the reason for the spike in costs is because PACC has become a no-kill shelter. which means it saves at least 90 percent of the animals. 

It's more expensive than it was five years ago when Animal Control, which it was called at the time, euthanized more than 8,000 animals a year. 

Town officials say they have never had service problems with PACC "because we don't receive a significant amount of complaints about animal control services from residents."

Whether the latest incidents will cause a change in the IGA with Pima County, Communications coordinator Mark Febbo said, "While the incident is unfortunate, we want to make sure we're providing residents with the best service possible but can't say this would be a game changer for us at this point."

Pima County has also issued a list of protocols which will be changed as a result of the incident including "Issuing a notice at the victim's residence if the victim is not available at the time of response" and also to "work with local law enforcement agencies to clarify the need for victims to contact PACC directly after an incident."

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