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Attack on South Ponte Vedra Beach leaves three dogs dead and 1 owner injured

9:38 PM, Jul 24, 2013   |    comments
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Cassidy was attacked and killed by neighbor's dogs, according the Cassidy's owner. Photo: Kathy Doolittle
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  • SOUTH PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Kathy Doolittle is grief stricken over the loss of her Pomeranian named Cassidy.

    "She was our life. Just look at her face," she said as she pointed to a picture of Cassidy. "She lit up the room."

    Early Friday evening, Doolittle said she and Cassidy walked from her South Ponte Vedra Beach home to the beach, and she saw a man walking her neighbor's two dogs on the beach.  

    They were pit-bull mixes, according to St. Johns Animal Control.

    "I saw them, and I'm scared enough of them. I thought, 'I'm just going to go back.' I picked her up and turned around to go," Doolittle remembered.

    She said her neighbor's dogs attacked her and Cassidy at the end of her path to the beach.

    "The black one jumped on my back and knocked me down and I had her [Cassidy] at my belly. I was trying to protect her," Doolittle recalled. "Then the red one grabbed her from the rear and started pulling her," Doolittle said. 

    Doolittle said the dogs -- estimated by Animal Control to be 45 pounds and 55-60 pounds -- "tore" her eight-pound dog apart.

    "The black one grabbed her in the throat. I knew she was dead. I just knew," Doolittle sobbed.  "She looked at me with that little face, like, 'Help me, Mommy.' And I couldn't help her."

    Doolittle said she tried to pry the dog's mouth open.

    "The man was running. He got bit pretty bad too," Doolittle noted.

    "He tried. He choked one of them to death on the beach to get him off of me so I could get lose."

    Doolittle said the dog-walker took the other dog to its house. 

    Little Cassidy died.

    Doolittle has bruises on her neck, stitches on her finger, and a splint on her hand. She said they are injuries from the Friday night incident.

    Ed Martin with St. Johns County Animal Control says the owner of the pit-bull mixes, Julie Shumer, was given a verbal warning in 2008 for letting a dog run loose.

    Martin said last year, Shumer's larger pit bull mix, named Bosco, charged at and bit a woman on the beach. 

    Martin said the dog was initially deemed dangerous after that July 2012 incident, but the county's attorneys and Shumer's attorney's settled the case.  

    The outcome: Bosco was no longer deemed a dangerous dog but he'd have to be on a leash and wear a muzzle.

    In April 2013, David Saltman who also lives in South Ponte Vedra Beach said Shumer's two dogs attacked his dog while walking on the beach.  Saltman's dog, Cooper, is a Tibetan terrier.  He said the larger dogs pushed him and Cooper into the water.

    "The big one had a muzzle on his face. He knocked my dog down and stood over him and kept hitting him in the face with the muzzle. The other smaller dog was biting his leg," Saltman recalled.

    Saltman said he was able to break away and carried Cooper, soaked and bloodied, back home.

    Saltman said Cooper was injured in 4-5 places and was traumatized.  He shook for days afterwards, Saltman said. 

    Martin with Animal Control says after that incident in April 2013, Bosco was deemed a dangerous dog.  

    Because of that designation, Animal Control ordered Bosco to be put down Friday, according to a St. Johns County Sheriff's Office report. Martin with Animal Control said Shumer "advised she wanted to euthanize" the dog.

    Saltman told First Coast News, "They should've been killed a long time ago. This woman should not been allowed to keep them."

    Shumer said she wanted to talk to First Coast News, but she declined because she is seeking an attorney and wants to speak with him first. 

    She said some inaccuracies had been previously reported about Friday's incident.  She said she wanted a fair story to be told.

    As for Doolittle, she wondered aloud if there needs to be a law banning pit-bull breeds in St. Johns County.

    Tears often filled her eyes, recalling the scene.  

    "It was so senseless. It didn't have to happen," Doolittle cried.

    First Coast News

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