An East Ridge man is grieving the loss of his service dog, Harley, after it was attacked by two “pit bulls” on Valentines Day in Camp Jordan Park.
David Stiles said he and his English Springer Spaniel, Harley, were on the walking track at Camp Jordan at about 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 14 when an elderly woman walking three dogs on leads lost control of the animals. Two “pit bulls,” one brown the other brindled, savaged Harley.
“I started screaming, ‘get them off, get them off,'” said Stiles, who uses a wheelchair as a result of neuropathy in one of his legs. “Two construction workers from the playground ran over and beat on the dogs to get them off.”
Stiles said the woman who was walking the dogs in the park were able to get them under control and she took off back to her car as Stiles yelled for her to stop.
Stiles said the woman was in her late 70s. She was short – about 5-feet, 2-inches tall – and heavyset. Stiles said she put the dogs into a dark-colored Honda CRV and left the park.
Stiles said he flagged down a park ranger inside the park and asked him what to do. Stiles said the ranger told him to report it to the police. At the time, Stiles said he was more concerned about his dog than anything else. He said two women that he didn’t know who were nearby came over and checked on him.
“Harley had two cuts on his paws and he was limping,” Stiles said. “Aside from that there were no real injuries. I didn’t realize he was hurt that bad.”
Stiles said he took Harley, a federally registered service dog that he obtained from his ex-daughter-in-law two years ago, back to the house. He said Harley became lethargic and refused food. Stiles became more and more concerned about his constant companion and took him to an emergency veterinarian hospital on the evening of Feb. 18.
The vets told Stiles that Harley’s intestines had been perforated during the dog fight. Bacteria from his bowels had poisoned the animal. A surgery that had a slim chance of saving the animal would cost more than $6,000. Even if Harley lived, the vets told him the dog’s quality of life would be poor.
“The vets told me that Harley was really suffering,” Stiles said during a telephone interview Wednesday. “That’s when I decided to have him euthanized.
“He was a good, good dog. My heart is broken. I’ve been ripped in two.”
This kind of attack is rare anywhere in the city of East Ridge, especially in Camp Jordan Park, said Crystal Reno, Supervisor of the city’s Animal Services Division. She said most folks who utilize the park for walking dogs do it responsibly. In general the park is a safe place for dog lovers.
Reno said this was only the second incident involving a dog at the park in 2019. The first was to pick up an abandoned dog. In 2018 there were only three calls involving the park; those were for dogs running at-large.
Reno said that an unidentified person called Animal Services after the incident with Harley. She sent two officers to the park to investigate. They spoke with the construction workers who confirmed the incident. No additional details about the attack were gained.
All Stiles wants is the woman who lost control of the dogs that mauled Harley to be identified and held responsible for the actions of the dogs.
“All I want to do is for the woman to realize that she is at fault,” said Stiles, who footed the bill at the emergency vet to the tune of $642. “Those dogs attacked viciously. It could have been me.”
According to state statutes hhttps://law.justia.com/codes/tennessee/2017/title-44/chapter-17/part-4/section-44-17-403/, a dog owners whose animal kills another pet can be held liable for civil damages. ERPD officials said no criminal laws apply in this case.