Greg Wyatt watched in horror as the pit bull cross came out of nowhere, grabbed his Yorkshire Terrier behind the head and started shaking its body like a rag.
Wyatt yelled. He emptied almost an entire can of dog spray at the attacker, and finally punched the dog in the head until his hand could take no more. But he couldn’t save little Tucker.
It happened on a regular early morning walk in his Osprey Village neighbourhood. He lives in the Shoreline strata development, and the attacking dog’s owner, Jeff Slater, is a neighbour who lives in nearby Kingfisher.
“We’re heartbroken over it,” said Wyatt, speaking for himself and his wife Judy. “He was almost a neighbourhood mascot. Just a sweet little guy.”
For Wyatt, it was a terrifying incident, in the sudden viciousness and the determination of the attack.
“I thought my life was in danger. I emptied three quarters of a can of dog spray [a pepper spray/sulphur mix] in his face, and he didn’t even flinch.”
Wyatt, six feet and 200 pounds, was amazed at the power of the pit bull. Thursday, he got physiotherapy for his hand – injured from punching the dog in the skull.
“He crossed the parking lot, latched onto him, and killed him – my little dog who I loved so much.”
Slater and his wife Agnes say they were shaken up by the incident. On Thursday, at noon, they planned to put down their pet.
Slater explained that the pit bull, Jax, was a rescued dog, “really responsive,” and who was well socialized with people and other big dogs. He called him “not quite a pit bull,” a mix of breeds, which may have included Rhodesian Ridgeback.
Slater knew the dog had a strong prey instinct that included birds, squirrels and toy dog breeds.
“He’s got a prey drive toward smaller dogs. He doesn’t know how to socialize with smaller dogs,” said Slater.
That morning, he was walking Jax and another pit bull cross. When Jax saw Tucker, he bolted toward the small dog.
“My shoulder hurts from him ripping the leash out of my hand,” Slater said.
Jax quickly covered about 150 feet, and attacked the smaller dog. In less than a minute, Jax killed Tucker.
Slater said he left quickly, faced with the emotional dog owner and a small group of angry neighbours, but not over a lack of caring.
“We’re total dog lovers, and this is a tragic incident,” said a crying Agnes. “It happened, and it’s terrible, and there’s nothing we can do except put the dog down, and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
The pair planned to offer condolences to the Wyatts in private.
“We’ll go there with our apologies,” she said.
Wyatt believes the same dog had attacked another person’s pet in the area, and said at least one more complaint allegation has come forward since the story of Tucker’s fatal attack.
He is frustrated that he warned the strata that oversees both of their buildings about the aggressive dogs owned by Slater about a year ago, after another less serious dog attack, but alleges that no action was taken.
“I predicted this could happen,” he said.
“Nobody did anything, and that’s the part that really bothers me.”
Wyatt said he will not seek compensation from the Slaters, but is considering legal action against the strata company, which he believes should be held responsible.
“We’re going to make some good come of this – that’s my goal.”
Ridge Meadows RCMP and Pitt Meadows bylaw enforcement are investigating the incident.