A 70-pound pit bull that attacked a San Juan Capistrano woman and her Jack Russell Terrier last month returned this week to its owners after being tentatively labeled a vicious dog, according to O.C. Animal Care documents.
The incident happened at March 19 in the Los Corrales neighborhood. Helen Welch said she was upstairs in her own house when she heard “dogs barking and obviously in distress,” followed by yelling.
Welch rushed outside to see her neighbor holding her Jack Russell Terrier with blood gushing from her hand, she said. The pit bull, named Gelee, had ahold of “Jack,” while the attacking dog’s owner, Peter Goodwin – also a neighbor – was trying to unhinge them.
“The owner of the pit bull was on the ground, pulling the pit bull by her hind legs, and his knuckles were all bloody,” said Welch, adding that she became more concerned for Jack’s owner.
“There was just blood gushing, spurting out of her hand,” Welch said.
Neither Welch nor paperwork from O.C. Animal Care identified the victim. Goodwin told an Animal Care officer that Gelee got out accidentally.
Welch said she rushed her neighbor to the emergency room at Mission Hospital, while yet another neighbor took Jack to the veterinarian. According to the file, Jack went to Laguna Pet Care Center in Laguna Hills, where he has incurred nearly $1,500 in vet bills.
Jack’s owner “showed me pictures of Jack while he was at the vet, showing major damage to Jack’s rectum, large open lacerations on his back end as well as several punctures,” wrote an Animal Care staffer on a so-called “detail activity card.”
Meanwhile, Jack’s owner required eight stitches in her hand and now suffers limited mobility. Welch said the bites were through the “meaty” part of the victim’s thumb.
The file from Animal Care shows that Gelee was impounded March 23 and quarantined for six days, until 10 days had passed since the bite.
Ryan Drabek, director of OC Animal Care, said Gelee has been tentatively labeled a vicious dog and the Goodwins must adhere to certain restrictions, such as maintaining locked gates, posting warning signs, carrying enough liability insurance.
An administrative hearing will eventually decide to make the vicious dog designation permanent, Drabek said.
“It’s up to the discretion of our agency to do what we feel is necessary to protect the public – that’s what the hearing is for,” he said.