Two dogs declared “vicious” by the Riverside police chief in August following two separate attacks against people and another dog have been euthanized, the chief has confirmed.
Chief Thomas Weitzel said the dogs’ history of aggressive behavior and the fact that they lived across the street from Blythe Park School played roles in his decision to seek for the dogs to be put down.
According to Weitzel, the dogs were destroyed on the evening of Sept. 2, at the veterinary hospital where they had been held since last month’s incidents.
“It was not an easy decision for me,” said Weitzel, a dog owner himself. “I believed public safety outweighed [a different alternative].”
The dogs, a beagle/shepherd mix and a pit bull were owned by the same family, whom police did not identify. According to Weitzel, the beagle/shepherd mix had a history of unprovoked attacks on people.
On two separate occasions in 2015, the dog bit people. On Aug. 16, the dog was involved in a third incident.
A person engaged to care for the dogs while the owners were out of town was walking the 70-pound beagle/shepherd mix in the 400 block of Lindberg Road when the dog lunged at a 67-year-old man who was outside to mow his lawn, biting him in the hand and chest.
Two days later, on Aug. 18, the same dog walker was outside in the 700 block of Leesley Road with the pit bull, when that dog broke free from his leash. The 80-pound pit bull ran about 150 yards to attack a 15-pound dog that was outside with its 65-year-old owner.
The pit bull mauled the smaller dog, killing it. The pit bull also bit the small dog’s owner, who tried to intervene.
Weitzel, said that before making the decision to have the dogs destroyed, he received an email from their owner, who didn’t contest the chief’s decision. On Aug. 30, Weitzel sent a letter ordering the destruction of the dogs to the veterinary hospital where the dogs have been held since the attacks.
The chief said that during a follow-up investigation, at least four other people in the neighborhood filed after-the-fact complaints of the dogs either running at large or being aggressive while on a leash.
Those incidents weren’t reported previously, Weitzel, said, because there had been no physical contact between the dogs and anyone else.
While this was the first time Weitzel has ordered a vicious dog euthanized as chief, he was involved in another case as deputy chief back in 2006-07. At that time then-Chief Eugene Karczewski declared a German shepherd vicious and ordered it destroyed after it had attacked other dogs on multiple occasions.
That dog, however, was spared after its owners found a home for it at a German shepherd rescue shelter in Green Bay, Wisconsin.