Isle of Wight, Va. – Isle of Wight animal control officers sought summonses Friday against the owners of three dogs accused of killing 10-year-old Jessica Coffield’s best friend, Shadow.
On Tuesday, Jessica’s mom let the 8-year-old husky/pit bull mix out into the backyard.
A minute or two later, Cynthia Rowland heard her neighbor desperately calling for help.
Imeleta Wright says she tried to fight off the dogs as Shadow lay helpless on the ground, viciously being attacked.
“They were tearing at the dog… and I couldn’t help it,” Imeleta says. “I was trying to holler, Lord, help me, because in a way, I was kind of afraid. But somehow, my scare was gone. I was trying so hard.”
According to animal control, one of the dogs attacking Shadow was a pit bull mix. The other two were larger mixed breeds, but not pit bulls.
It’s a sight Wright says she doesn’t think she will ever be able to free from her mind. One that clearly brings strong feelings of guilt.
“I had the dog in my hands and I put the dog back down and pick up my shoes and I aimed right for the forehead,” she says. “I couldnt help the poor dog.”
“It was so brutal and gruesome that my reaction was, I knew she [Shadow] couldn’t survive those injuries,” Rowland says.
According to Rowland, the two larger mixed breeds involved that day also attacked her Boston Terrier a few years ago.
She says it cost her around $2,000 in vet bills to keep little Dutch alive.
She reported it, but says nothing ever happened.
So NewsChannel 3 took action and went to Isle of Wight Animal Control Chief Larry Wilson to get answers.
“We do have some information from an animal control officer who was employed at that time and her memory is the fact that, yes, there was an issue and an incident,” he says.
He explains, per state code, a licensed vet needs to deem a situation serious and injuries life threatening.
Even though Rowland says she has paperwork proving the seriousness of Dutch’s injuries, Chief Wilson says a veterinarian at that time didn’t see it that way.
But, on Thursday, Chief Wilson says they did get confirmation and will move forward with three dangerous dog petitions in Shadow’s case.
Still, Rowland can’t understand why all three dogs are at home with their owners right now.
It’s a decision Chief Wilson says he made after getting reassurance from the owners.
“The bottom line is the fact that she does say that she did have a fenced in area for the animals to be in and she agreed that she would actually walk the dogs on the leash as needed to and from that fenced in area.”
And, state code does allow it if officials believe an owner can keep a potentially dangerous dog confined until a judge hears the case.
However, if any of the three dogs accused in this case are seen off the property, Chief Wilson says that could change.
Knowing this does bring some relief to Rowland, but it doesn’t take away the pain that Jessica feels now that her 4-legged friend is buried in the backyard.
“I wanted to kill those dogs,” Jessica says.
“It’s not just about dogs you know, it’s about our family. I don’t just see it as your dog hurt my dog; our dogs are members of our family,” Rowland says.