Dogs kill cat, owner wants answers

Published 11:47 am Monday, April 2, 2012

Leo, a pit bull and Labrador mix, was found with Marley out roaming the streets and is being investigated with the attack of a cat on Fourth Street. — Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune

Tanya Blair of Albert Lea was enjoying her day off work on Wednesday when her neighbor ran into her house and told her to come outside — immediately.

By the time Blair did, she saw two dogs running. Her 15-year-old Angora cat, Cuddles, was lying in her yard unable to move.

Cuddles, a 15-year-old Angora cat, was reportedly attacked and killed last Wednesday by two dogs.

Blair and her neighbor slid Cuddles onto a piece of cardboard and transported her to the Clarks Grove Vet Clinic, where Blair found out the cat had a broken back. The cat died shortly after.

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Police are investigating whether one or both dogs attacked and killed Blair’s cat.

But for Blair, the attack raises the question of whether aggressive dog breeds should be banned in Albert Lea and how dog owners can be held responsible for their animals’ actions.

Albert Lea Police Lt. J.D. Carlson said the owner of the two dogs identified them as Marley, a black American bulldog and Shar-Pei mix, and Leo, a tan, part pit bull, part Labrador retriever.

Freeborn County Humane Society Director Christa Stieler described Marley as more consistent with a Rottweiler mix.

The two dogs are in quarantine at the Freeborn County Humane Society shelter.

Carlson said the dogs had been running loose for at least 90 minutes before the alleged attack in front of Blair’s house on Fourth Avenue. The dogs’ owner lives in the 1000 block of Newton Avenue and could not be reached for comment.

Carlson said Marley and Leo were first reported running loose down James Avenue at 3:32 p.m. Wednesday. At 4:26 p.m., dispatchers received a call of two dogs in the Hardee’s area, and the attack took place around 5 p.m.

Leo, a pit bull and Labrador mix, was found with Marley out roaming the streets and is being investigated with the attack of a cat on Fourth Street.

According to Carlson, nobody saw the actual attack; one neighbor saw the dogs standing over the cat.

Carlson said the dogs did not seem aggressive when they were impounded, but Stieler said Marley was acting a little aggressive Thursday morning.

Blair said this is not the first time she was attacked by pit bulls. Last year, she and her dogs were attacked by two pit bulls, and two other pit bulls were involved in a separate incident.

“Last year I was attacked; this year the cat’s gone,” she said. “It would have been different if she got hit by a car or died of old age.”

Blair, an avid walker, said she sometimes has to turn around and walk another direction when she approaches a pit bull. And she has encountered numerous people who allow their dogs to run without leashes.

“I’m not done with this until I can get a law to get them out of town,” Blair said, who also talked with the city attorney about the situation Thursday.

She questioned why people can’t just take their animals to get their shots and be licensed.

“It’s the owners,” she said. “If you’re going to have these animals, you have to be responsible. Please be more respectful of your neighbor.”

Stieler said she was saddened when she heard about the incident and that the two dogs had to be quarantined.

“We were really working hard to change everyone’s view of pit bulls,” Stieler said. “They can be great family dogs.”

Stieler said the attack on Cuddles is tough because there is still some uncertainty about which of the dogs — or if both — is responsible. Both dogs are expected to be quarantined for two weeks, and Stieler is unsure what will happen beyond that time or if one or both will be euthanized.

Carlson said the dogs’ owner initially said to euthanize both dogs but later called back and asked that only Marley be put to sleep. That dog has reportedly previously attacked other animals.

Police cited the owner with dogs running at large and unlicensed dogs. Neither of the dogs are licensed or current on shots.

The attack remains under investigation.

“Hopefully it will be an eye opener for a lot of people,” Stieler added. “Keep your dogs under control, and keep your cats in the house.”