A tragedy for dog lovers

Written by Scott Graves, Pilot staff writer June 06, 2009 05:00 am

Lori St. Clair of Ridgecrest, Calif., sends a heartfelt thank you to Curry Coastal Pilot readers who responded to her Wednesday letter, “Don’t trust a dog off leash.”

In her letter, Lori described a gut-wrenching incident on the Winchuck River beach in which a Brookings man’s loose dog attacked her poodle. The dog died a few hours later at a local veterinarian hospital.

“Our little 4-year-old poodle (Tawny) was in my husband’s arms bleeding and badly torn up,” Lori wrote.

Since publishing her letter I’ve received several calls, comments and e-mails from readers. Some shared their sympathy, which I passed on to Lori. Others had questions.

Reader Gerry Kass wrote:

“I’ve just finished reading Lori St.Clair’s letter and I’m sick at heart. Supposedly we have a leash law, so why were those two big black dogs running loose? What is the owner of the dog that killed the St.Clair’s dog responsible for? Is he paying the bills at Town and Country Animal Clinic? Did he express any remorse? Was this the first time the big, black dog bit another dog or a person?”

To answer those questions and get a better understanding of what happened, I spoke with Lori and Brookings resident Paul Myers, 83, the owner of the dog that attacked her dog.

According to Lori, Paul paid the vet bill and offered to pay for Tawny to be cremated, but she has doubts the sincerity of the Paul’s offer after learning of the man and his dogs’ alleged history. She has had no contact with the man since that day at the vet’s. He has not apologized, she said.

In talking with Curry County Animal Control Supervisor Catherine Powers, Lori learned that this was not the first incident involving Paul’s dogs.

“There was one report in which he had his dogs off leash on the beach and one or more of his dogs attacked two greyhounds,” Lori said. “There were other incidents but the officer did not relay the details or how many or the damages. I am thinking that Tawny was the first animal killed.”

She said, “I am furious that this person has had more than one incident where his dogs have done damage and he is still running his dogs loose on the beaches. ... Our Tawny’s death was preventable – had actions been taken by the authorities she would be alive today.”

Catherine said since Lori’s letter was published she has received phone calls from a former Harris Beach State Park employee and several of the man’s neighbors, who reported previous incidents about Paul’s dogs. Other complaints about Paul’s dogs – mostly for nuisance barking – have been filed with animal control in recent years, Powers said.

Paul, a Brookings resident for 15 years, denied such incidents, but admitted that his neighbors have complained about his noisy dogs – and he has built a new fence to limit their barking and he keeps others inside. The attack on Lori’s poodle was the first time any of his dogs behaved that way.

Lori said she and her husband will not take legal action against the man. A lawsuit, she said, would involve two states and be costly and complicated “and it wouldn’t bring Tawny back. I don’t want his money for replacing Tawny.”