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A case of mistaken identity?

charlotteA mastiff that killed a terrier-Chihuahua mix Thursday at Charlotte’s Frazier Dog Park mistook the smaller dog for his favorite chew toy, according to the man who brought the mastiff to the park.

On Thursday, Maran Heatwole walked into the dog park with her 12-pound dog, Presley. Witnesses said the mastiff, about 140 pounds, picked up Presley and shook her from side to side, reports the Charlotte Observer.

The man who brought the mastiff to the park told the newspaper that the dog had been playing at the park with his favorite toy, a brown stuffed bear. When Presley walked by, he said, the mastiff picked her up because they looked similar.

The newspaper did not identify the man by name, and he declined to give the dog’s name, but he did provide a photo of the toy in question.

He said he feels sorry for Presley’s owner, but pointed out the park has a separate area designated for small dogs, and that Presley should have been there. He said the mastiff was not his, but belongs to his girlfriend’s relatives in Tennessee.

Heatwole drove Presley to Dilworth Animal Hospital after the incident but veterinarians were unable to save the dog.

Heatwole passed the man’s name on to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control. Officials there said Sunday night that the case is under investigation.

Parks officials said this is the first fatal incident they know of at one of the county’s five dog parks, which have been open for eight years.

Joseph Hawley, Heatwole’s fiance, said the couple is devastated by the loss and plans to lobby for stricter safety regulations for aggressive dogs in parks. “We’re gonna do as much as we can to make sure no other owner or family has to go through this.”

Comments

Comment from Katrina
Time April 5, 2010 at 8:10 pm

And this is the reason there are small dog parks and big dog parks. Also the reason there should be staff at dog parks to enforce rules like no toys, limit high value treats, separate big and small dogs, and keep out dogs in heat. Owners always think their dogs won’t be a problem or a trigger.

Dog aggressive and prey aggressive are two different things yet are treated the same by most officials. Ugh.

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