Charlotte couple wants accountability from neighborhood after pit bulls kill their dog

Lance Riley and Tara Storniolo-Riley’s 2-year-old Yorkie, Roxy, doesn’t go past the front porch of their home anymore after witnessing her older brother get mauled to death by other dogs in their south Charlotte neighborhood a week ago.

“I actually have to pull little Roxy off of the porch to get her to go pee,” Tara said. “She doesn’t even want to leave, and walking was like her favorite thing to do.”

The Rileys lost a family member on June 16 when Buddy, their 15-year-old terrier mix, was attacked by two pit bulls during a walk around their Beverly Crest subdivision.

“The whole time I was just screaming ‘Help me,’” Tara said. “I lost my voice. The next day, I couldn’t really talk.”

Tara said she the pit bulls in the corner of her eye before the attack, which prompted her to pick up Roxy. Before she knew it, the dogs were “all over” Buddy.

“They just rolled him,” she said. “I tried to pull [Buddy] away twice, but when I tried a third time, his harness flew off.”

Two men saw the mauling and took action. Tara said one man tried to break up the dogs with a golf club, while the other tried to distract them so they’d let go of Buddy. Once Buddy got free and ran for safety, one of the pit bulls attempted to attack Tara and a “screaming” Roxy, but the man with the golf club hit the dog away, she said.

“It actually grabbed hold of my hair,” Tara said. “I kind of blacked out after that.”

Tara found Buddy laying on the curb and bleeding, so she and Lance took him to an emergency vet. The veterinarian stitched Buddy up and released him. The next morning, Buddy wasn’t moving and was “staring into space,” she said. Buddy’s wounds began to leak, so they went back to the vet.

Buddy died on the car ride back home.

“He was a strong little dog,” Tara said.

Lance said he got Buddy six years ago to be a companion for his mother after his father died of Parkinson’s disease. For the past two years, his mother has been battling dementia, so they took Buddy in because she couldn’t care for him any longer, he said.

“How do I tell a 85-year-old person with severe dementia who knows who I am, and partially knows who my wife is, that her dog who she asks about 100 times every time we go visit her, is dead?” he said. “I haven’t told her, and I don’t think she’ll remember, but it just makes it even sadder for us.”

HOA responds to attack

Lance Riley said “maintaining pit bulls or Rottweilers on any lot or in any unit of the preserve of Beverly Crest” is prohibited, according to the subdivision covenant.

In an email to Beverly Crest residents, the homeowners association board said it had “taken the steps to have the animals removed effective immediately for the safety and welfare of the entire Beverly Crest community,” the email said.

The board also said it would use its authority “to ensure that an incident like this will never happen again,” the email said.

The HOA board did not immediately respond last Thursday to an Observer request for comment.

Tara Riley said she’s worried about aggressive dogs possibly getting loose and attacking children.

The pit bulls chewed through the line they were tethered to, Tara said the dogs’ owner told her. Often the owner would hear the dogs barking as they pulled on the tether, but she didn’t know how they got out, Tara said.

The pit bulls’ owner promised to give the Rileys about $100 every other week to pay for the cost of the pet, care and cremation, Lance said.

“I’m skeptical whether I’m going to see my money, and I’m probably going to go down the path of a lawsuit,” he said.

The Rileys filed police report with Charlotte-Mecklenburg police and a dangerous dog complaint with the North Carolina Department of Justice.

A CMPD officer issued the pit bulls’ owner a civil citation for violation of restraint and a civil citation for the attack of another animal, according to the report. The owner told the officer that she would reimburse the Rileys for any vet bills, and she requested her apology be passed along to them.

The two pit bulls don’t have a history of animal attack or restraint violation, but one of the dogs did bite someone who came onto the owner’s property uninvited, the report says.

Buddy’s death comes two months after Roxy was attacked by a Dalmatian that pinned her down in its mouth, Tara said. The dog attacked Roxy after breaking free from a boy who was walking it, Tara said. Lance happened to be driving by, so he jumped out of his car and pulled the Dalmatian off of Roxy.

“People just aren’t responsible,” Tara said. “The parents of that kid should’ve known better. Either he wasn’t trained to walk the dog, or he was too small.”

The Rileys didn’t file a police report because they weren’t sure who the boy or dog belonged to, Lance said.

The couple is looking at moving out of the neighborhood because it’s “just gotten out of control,” Lance said.

The pit bulls’ owner also said she’s moving, the police report says.

Until then, both pit bulls are under a containment order.

What to do in case of a dog attack

CMPD Animal Care & Control says 911 should be called for emergencies, or 311 to have a officer come and take a report. Here are other suggestions from the department:

Carry an umbrella, preferably an automatic push-button umbrella, on walks. It can act as a shield against an attacking dog.

Walk with cheap hard kibble and pelt an attacking dog’s face with it. The kibble smells different and having it hitting their face will catch them off guard.

Never run because that will be encourage the dog to chase.

If someone must step in during an attack, the best course of action is to pull the attacking dog by the base of its tail. Pull upward so the dog’s back feet come off the ground. This usually causes them to stop biting and turn around to see what is happening. Never try to separate dogs by collars. Doing so likely will lead to a bite.

Carry an extra leash or slip lead and take it out in case of an attack. Often dogs will retreat if they see the leash because they don’t want to be leashed up.

Owners can teach their dog the behind-and-stay command. Most dogs want to get to the dog, not the human.

How to prevent dog attacks

Here are some ways to prevent dog attacks, according to PetSafe.

Respect a dog’s space while it’s sleeping or eating.

Avoid tethered or chained dogs.

Don’t stare at a dog because eye contact can be interpreted as a threat or challenge.

When a dog postures and acts like he might attack, try turning sideways, looking away and pretending to yawn.

Stand still and quiet around unfamiliar dogs — like a tree.

Use a noise, a toy, or a verbal cue to change the upset dog’s attitude.

If knocked down, try not to squirm or fight back. Instead, roll up in a ball and be still–like a log–until the dog goes away.

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