Isle of Wight family’s dog killed after a vicious attack by neighboring dogs

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.

11 comments

  • Kim Goehl

    Is their any way we can find out the location where the 3 dogs came from or an area of concern? That way the community; especially dog owners can be on the look out? Their have been three dogs wondering in my neighborhood and we spoke to the owners who said “They keep getting out.” They said it would be taken care of.

  • Amber Gabbard

    Yes it would be nice to know the exact area, especially if there are small children that live in the vicinity of the attacks. I hope they put these animals down before something like this happens again, sorry for your loss!

  • ann knowlton

    Rescued my “4 children” as puppies,at 10 months &younger.this last year i lost my last one at 17 1/2 years old..the other 3 @ 15,16 &16 1/2…the only time they ever got “out” was when a meter reader left my gate open…immediately i was on the phone to animal control &everyone else i could think of!!! in panic i drove through neighbor hood ect..thank god i found all within hours..at 50 lbs each never did they ever attack..or have chance to another dog…what is wrong with all these irresponsible pet owners these days..pets ..as with mine are part of your family… if not you should not have them..or you should be resposnible enough to train ..or restrain them from”getting out” ..would u let your 3 yr old child get out “accidentlly” time after time? its the owners…not the animals..why should the responsible families suffer 4 the irresponsible ones?

  • Debbie Bell

    Before pits, we never had victim dogs killed on a public street, in the victim’s yard or home by game dogs on a “seek and destroy mission.” Now, thanks to the infestation of fighting dogs, too many communities have become pit bull aware in these horrible ways.

    Pits are victims as well of these man made mutations. Let’s stop making more victims.

    Unless you want to support dog fighting, let us ban the breeding and sale of pits and pit mixes. You can keep you pit but he mnn

    • Debbie Bell

      You can keep you pit but he must be neutered and microchipped. The only way to get a new pit is via adoption of a neutered one from a licensed shelter.

      • Concerned Citizen

        Debbie please stop with the fear mongering. Don’t blame the dog for the owner’s negligence number one and number two the statement that you made of pit bulls being the cause for all these victims is so false and misleading I cant even begin to address it. The article states one pit bull breed and two large breeds and your focus automatically turns to one breed instead of the owner’s part in the situation. That isn’t fair to the breed and to responsible owners that raise these animal to be loving caring and in some instances life saving companions. So please don’t start the discrimination of a group of animals without proper education.

  • southern belle

    My niece who lives in CA was attacked by a German Shepard who was vicious. The dog was known to have biting issues. The owner told his buddy that he needed to get rid of the dog due to biting, it needed to be put down. The buddy said no give him to me, my business was broke into and lost $20,000 in equipment and he needed a guard dog! So the buddy gets the dog, the dog has bit all of his employees and his wife. Wife had to go hospital for stitches from recent dog bite. My niece goes to his place to do some work for him on his boats. The man leaves to go buy cigarettes and puts the dog away, while he was gone the dog broke free and attacked her unprovoked. The dog bit her stomach getting to her liver, bit her legs and arms, he ripped a 4-5 inch section of her arm between her elbow and hand. She managed to run away and escape but collapsed in the street and lucky for her people came to her aid. It has been over 6 operations and well over 1 million thus far, it’s been now 6 months since the attack…

    I tell all of this because it’s people who own pets that don’t take care of them properly when they become a danger to the public. If the dog is dangerous it needs to be retrained or put down, case closed! I love my dogs but I won’t have a dangerous dog as my family. My apathy goes to the poor young girl who witnessed the attack, blessings to her and her recovery over her loss.

  • Dayna Hamilton

    What a surprise. (NOT!) Another Animal Control officer that is pit friendly. He believed the owners of the attacking dogs, even after they’d proved TWICE that they are liars and irresponsible. After these dogs get out again and kill a child I hope the county this is in is sued into the ground.

  • Amber Gabbard

    Pit bulls are NOT killers, the people who train them to fight are!! I’ve had 3 pits and they were the sweetest, loving dogs I’ve ever had, never once worried about any of them ever being around my kids, but had the nastiest little ankle biter breed dog that I wouldn’t let near my kids because of his biting…any dog is capable of being dangerous, not because of the breed, but because of how it’s been raised. Raising a dog is just like raising children, if you raise your child around fighting…that’s exactly what he will do…and its the parents fault for raising their child like that.

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