A Valencia Park woman, June Wayne, 56, will face misdemeanor charges for allegedly failing to control her aggressive pit bull, which was fatally shot by a neighbor as it attacked him and his dog authorities said Tuesday. Valencia Park is a community in the southeastern section of the city of San Diego.
The shooting occurred in the 5800 block of Duluth Avenue on Monday, said San Diego Animal Services Department spokesman Dan DeSousa. The pit bull was already dead when animal control arrived at the scene.
Lee Pattison, 24, who shot and killed Wayne's 3-year-old pit bull, told San Diego police he was in front of his house about 8:30 p.m. when the dog ran across the street and first charged a pizza deliveryman before attacking his husky and himself in his front yard.
The pit bull had reportedly been out of his yard and involved in aggressive incidents in the neighborhood before. "This [was] not the first time this has happened," said San DPD Officer Dino Delimitros.
The 24-year-old man said when he was unable to stop the attack on his dog, he ran into his home, retrieved a shotgun and tried to drive the pit bull away by hitting it with the butt of the gun, but the aggressive animal would not release its hold on his dog, CBS8 reports.
When those attempts failed, Pattison stated he felt he had no recourse but to shoot the pit bull to defend his dog and himself.
As the animal control officer did not witness the pit bull running loose and attacking the neighbor or the neighbor’s dog, the animal control officer was precluded from filing charges against the owner of the pit bull. The neighbor was advised of his right to press charges against the pit bull owner, and he chose to do so. In such cases, the animal control officer is obligated by law to follow through with that request, DeSousa said.
In an unofficial interview with SanDiegoNewsVideo.com, which shoots media footage for local news stations, Pattison describes that the pit bull first came after a pizza delivery man who had come to his door. He claims that the pit bull killed another dog before this incident and he was fearful for the safety of his dog and himself.
The pit bull, which was not neutered, reportedly had attacked a Bichon Frise last year as the owner of the pit bull walked it through the neighborhood. In that incident, the owner of the Bichon Frise did not choose to pursue charges against the pit bull's owner.
The man who shot the pit bull told authorities it also had gone after his dog on a prior occasion, after which he warned Wayne that he would shoot the animal if it happened again, DeSousa said.
Pattison was not arrested or cited for the shooting. Police say Pattison had the gun legally and charges are unlikely, UTS San Diego reports.
“This incident could have easily been prevented,” DeSousa said. “If this dog had been securely confined, this incident would have never happened. And, if the dog had been properly socialized around people and other animals, even if it had gotten loose it would not have attacked the neighbor and his dog. It is unfortunate that this dog paid the ultimate price for an irresponsible owner.”
SanDiegoNewsVideostates in a comment, “The dog was shot in the neighbor’s yard. He had a bite wound to his left thigh (I couldn't get a shot of it, but I did see it). While none of us knows just how serious the attack was, I have to agree with the victim. I love animals, especially dogs, but if I was being attacked and had no other choice, I would have done the same thing. It's easy to second guess what could have or should have been done, but in the heat of the moment and given the past experiences, I think it was justified.”