When Rehoboth Beach resident Trena Kelly's young dachshund was attacked by two other dogs Aug. 6, she said there wasn't much she could do.
It was a summer Saturday afternoon, and Kelly was walking Jasmine, a passive, 1-year-old purebred dachshund, in their Pine Bay neighborhood near Rehoboth Bay.
She was walking Jasmine on a leash, just like she would any other day, when two pit bulls came running through the woods and attacked her dog. She dropped the leash, but there was little chance to do much else, she said.
“It was a hot day, and everyone's windows were closed,” she said. “I'm screaming for help. It didn't go anywhere. It was tragic. But what do you do?”
Finally a neighbor came out, she said, and Jasmine was rushed to the veterinarian, but it was too late. The attacking dogs killed Jasmine.
“My little dog didn't even fight back. That was her nature,” she said.
Kelly estimated it took animal control officers about an hour to travel from Georgetown to her neighborhood. Around the same time they arrived, she said, the loose dogs attacked another dog in the neighborhood.
“The other dog got injured but didn't require medical attention,” she said. Two people at the site of the second attack were able to separate the dogs, and they managed to corral one of the pit bulls in a garage.
Animal control contacted the attacking dogs' owner, who agreed to have them euthanized, she said.
It was an unusual situation for the community, Kelly said. The attacking dogs came from a neighboring home outside her development.
When the Cape Gazette attempted to confirm details of the attack – where, when and exactly what happened – the overseeing Department of Health and Social Services refused to release any pertinent information, other than confirming the attacking dogs had been voluntarily euthanized.
DHSS legally has until Friday, Sept. 2, to respond to a Freedom of Information Act filed by the Cape Gazette Aug. 12. The agency requested a FOIA request after stating in an email it would not release information because doing so could hold “implications for investigations throughout the entire agency by creating precedent and expectations.”
Spokeswoman Jen Brestel said in an email Aug. 10 the owner was charged with two counts of dog-at-large, a civil charge that comes with a fine of $25 to $50 each, and confirmed that both dogs were euthanized.
State code does not provide charges for a loose dog that bites another animal – only if it injures a person. The attacking dog or dogs could be seized for a dangerous dog hearing, but the owner of the dogs involved in this case chose to surrender them without a hearing.