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Pit bull stabbed at adoption event in Georgia


A pit bull being shown at an adoption event at a PetSmart outside Atlanta on Sunday got loose from her handler, attacked a smaller dog and was repeatedly stabbed by the smaller dog’s owner.

Clara, a pit bull who was being fostered and who was taken to the event in hopes of finding an adoptive home, was euthanized due to the severity of her injuries, the local humane society said.

The smaller dog, a West Highland terrier, spent a night in an emergency vet’s office and was released to her owner Monday.

As reported in the Times-Herald, Clara, who has been living in a foster home, had been brought to the event by the Newnan-Coweta Humane Society in hopes of finding her a permanent home. The Westie belonged to a customer in the store — one who, according to witnesses, had a low opinion of pit bulls.

Witnesses say the smaller dog growled at the larger one when they walked past each other inside the store. Shortly after that, Clara pulled free from her handler and ran at the smaller dog.

The Westie’s owner tried to pull the pit bull off his dog, kicked her and stabbed her several times with a pocket knife. While doing so, some witnesses said, he was repeatedly screaming, “F—ing pit bulls!”

clara“The guy was just screaming ‘‘f***ing pit bull, why are you even allowed to have these dogs?'” Teresa Reeves, who attended the adoption even with her fiance, Mike Wohler, told the Times-Herald.

Clara was holding the smaller dog by the scruff of her neck or ear,  and both dogs were still, Reeves said. “Clara wasn’t clamped down on the dog. Mike was able to put his hands in her mouth,” she said. “…They were just standing there. It could have easily been broken up.”

After the man started stabbing the pit bull, his son screamed for him to stop. Clara is believed to have been stabbed up to six times.

PetSmart staff also attempted to break the dogs up using air horns and spray bottles.

Sandy Hiser, with the Newnan-Coweta Humane Society, said that once the dogs were separated, Clara’s wounds turned out to be worse than originally thought. She sat back and was wagging her tail when it was noticed she was bleeding, and making a gurgling noise when she breathed.

Hiser said Clara’s injuries were “so extensive that if she did pull through, it would have impacted her quality of life.”

Police responded but no charges have been filed. Hiser said an officer told her that the man “had a right to defend his dog.”

The case is still being investigated by Newnan’s animal warden.

One witness said she heard the Westie’s owner complaining about pit bulls even before the attack.

Clara was being returned to the store from a trip outside when the man said, “If you bring that f***ing pit bull near me I’m going to stab it,” said Erin Burr, who was attending the adoption event.

According to a Facebook page set up in hopes of getting Clara adopted, she’d lived over half her life in a boarding kennel. It also notes she had problems being “dog tolerant.” Posts note that the page was started after she was banned from an earlier adoption event.

(Photos from the “Clicks for Clara” Facebook page)


Comment from Miss Jan
Time September 3, 2014 at 3:48 pm

Okay don’t start the flaming yet. I am not against specific breeds. I have had two pits, loved them, both gone due to old age, long ago. That out of the way, the deal is this: if you have a dog you are entitled to defend your dog. Repeat: ENTITLED TO DEFEND YOUR OWN DOG. The second deal is this: the rescue/adoption organization that brought a known dog-aggressive pit to an adoption event is NOT ENTITLED to be a rescue organization. Repeat: NOT ENTITLED. The colossal stupidity of any group no matter how devoted to rescue that brings a dog-aggressive member of the already bad reputation group of dogs to an adoption event ESPECIALLY after previously being banned, earns that rescue organization PERMANENT suspension from whatever dog rescue community they claim to belong to – AND because they are clearly NOT fulfilling their mission, if they are a 501(c)(3) they need to get that privilege yanked too. Just because another dog’s owner mouths off their personal opinion that they don’t like pits does not create a crime except, obviously, those who believe that pits are entitled to do what they sometimes do – without any consequences (you should hear the pit support comments in Springfield Oregon while the child the pit attacked fights for her life in the best hospital in the state). And THAT having been said, the owner with the Westie should have left the store immediately if he didn’t like pit bulls instead of exposing his own dog to the perceived, threatened and ultimately REAL danger.

Comment from Jen Brighton
Time September 4, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Ugh. Stories like this put a “pit” in my stomach. Without being present, it sounds like a tragedy waiting to happen and possibly neither dogs should have been in the store, which can be a stressful environment even for the most socialized dogs.

My pit mix’s first friend was a Westie and he was a great playmate because Westies can be rambunctious and don’t back down. He taught her the ins and outs of appropriate play. Having said that, it’s unfortunate that Clara escaped and that the dogs engaged. The Westie probably picked up on its owner’s body language/attitude if he in fact hates pit bulls, thus the growl. If Clara was known to have issues with other dogs then she should not have been allowed to come into close proximity with another dog, especially one who she’d never met before.

To top it off he Westie owner seems to have overreacted and does not understand dogs. If he didn’t like pit bulls, why did he even have his dog around Clara? What a terrible thing for his son and others present to witness. And Clara paid the ultimate price.

Comment from DonnaNello
Time September 5, 2014 at 12:37 am

I am not against any specific breeds either and I know people involved in dog rescue and specifically in pit rescue. I’m aware that many pits are well-behaved or can be trained to be well-behaved. However, if you look at the facts of this case, you have a pit bull who had lived much of her life in a boarding kennel, had a history of “dog aggression” when around other dogs, had been banned from some previous adoption events, slipped a collar (apparently wasn’t wearing a harness) and ran from the front to the back of a store where this man was with his dog, and according to a statement by the rescue group, bit and injured the small dog to the point to a degree needing overnight medical care. The Westie owner did NOT just walk up to a pit bull and start stabbing it. Furthermore, PetSmart is a store and people go in there to shop, not just to attend an adoption event. People have even blamed the Westie for “starting the fight” – hello, the Westie was on its leash when a strange off-leash dog came bearing down on it. At least one other witness in the store has given a news interview saying that the Westie and its owner were not misbehaving in any way prior to the pit bull suddenly running at them. Several of the store witnesses keep saying the Westie wasn’t injured when in fact it was bitten and had to spend overnight in emergency care. I have even read comments calling the Westie owner nasty names for “bringing a pocket knife to an adoption event”, like he went there with the intention of stabbing a dog, when the reality is that a pocket knife is something that many men including my own relatives just have in their pockets daily for utility use. I feel bad for Clara the pitbull but I also feel bad for the Westie who was injured and put the blame for this on the rescue group who decided that this dog with a poor history at adoption events should nevertheless be brought to such an event, where other dogs were likely to be present, and then did not take care to keep her on her leash. It looks like the Westie owner has a potential legal claim against the rescue group and/or the store as you take your dog to Petsmart with a reasonable expectation that they would be safe from other dogs there. The statements from people minimizing the responsibility of the off-leash, dog-aggressive pit bull and making the Westie owner out to be a dog-abusive monster is NOT helping their cause – it just makes them look incredibly biased.