A walk with the dogs turned tragic earlier this month for a Tortosa couple.
Carol Cook was walking Kali, a miniature schnauzer, and Lacey, a Maltipoo, along a sidewalk around the corner from their home about 4 p.m. on Dec. 5. She had just crossed over North San Marin Street onto West Vera Cruz Drive.
On the other side of the street, Kesean McBath walked his two pit bulls.
But when McBath’s dogs saw hers, things began to spin out of control, Cook said.
“His dogs started barking and got much more aggressive,” she said. “He’s not a very big guy and they started pulling him into the street and his dogs were heading right toward us. One of them broke away from its leash, and McBath tried to grab it but when he did, the other one escaped its leash.
“In a split second they were mauling my dogs,” she continued, recalling the chaotic scene. “I tried to pick up Lacey, but his dog grabbed my arm. He (McBath) was trying to wrestle control of the other pit bull. I was trying to get the pit to release Lacey, but the dog was dragging me across the street.”
Cook said she had a hold of Lacey and the pit bull dragged them both down to the ground.
Her husband, Kevin, raced to the scene from home when she called. As he worked to get the dog to release his wife, McBath was “beating the hell” out of the other pit bull to get it to release Kali, Kevin was told by a neighbor who also ran to the scene to assist. Meanwhile, the Cooks managed to get the other dog to release Lacey, a Maltese-poodle cross.
At that time, the couple claimed, McBath began gathering his dogs and started to walk away. An off-duty police officer who came to the scene instructed McBath to take his dogs home but return to the scene.
Carol Cook and her dogs suffered serious injuries.
“In a split second they were mauling my dogs … I was trying to get the pit to release Lacey, but the dog was dragging me across street.” – Carol Cook
“My dogs were in shock. I was in shock,” she said. “Josh (the off-duty police officer) told us what information to get from McBath, and we got our dogs in the car and took off to Chandler since there is no emergency vet here in Maricopa. We called the police on the way there and told them what had happened.”
Kali, who was nearly 10 years old, did not survive. With a lung punctured, the miniature schnauzer was placed on oxygen by the veterinarian because she could not breathe on her own. She also had a broken jaw and punctures to her stomach. When the vet told them Kali would face pain for the rest of her life if she survived, the Cooks made the heart-wrenching decision to put her down to avoid future suffering by the pet.
Carol Cook suffered punctures as well when one of the pit bulls sunk its teeth into her forearm. She suffered cuts and scrapes on her elbows, knees and arms when the animal dragged her into the street. And she may have re-broken a foot that had almost healed from a previous injury, she said. As of last week, she was in a walking boot until her doctor could assess the damage.
But the injuries go beyond the physical, the Cooks said.
“I have PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and I can’t sleep at night,” Carol Cook said. “Lacey has the same thing – for the first week she laid under the bed and in the closet all day. I can’t take her to the mailbox anymore, which I used to do.”
“Nobody wanted nothing to happen and I’m sorry it did, but it’s over. Animal Control came out, I did the 10-day quarantine and in my mind this whole thing is over.” – Kesean McBath
She said McBath should not have been walking his dogs in the neighborhood because he could not control them.
“They were too big and strong for him to handle,” she said.
‘GET ANOTHER DOG AND MOVE ON’
For his part, McBath does not dispute the incident, but feels it is time for all parties involved to move forward.
“My only comment is to tell the guy to move on,” McBath said of Kevin Cook. “Move on. It was an accident. You want an apology, and you want to be consoled. I can be respectable and apologetic and do that. But don’t harass and attack me over a f—ing dog. Just let it go. Get another dog and move on.
“Nobody wanted nothing to happen and I’m sorry it did, but it’s over,” he continued. “Animal Control came out, I did the 10-day quarantine and in my mind this whole thing is over.”
But the incident may not be over. The Cooks have filed complaints with Maricopa police and Pinal County Animal Control.
“Animal Control has asked that a charge and review be submitted through the Police Department,” MPD spokesman Luis Vila wrote in an email responding to questions about the incident. “The case has been turned over to the Maricopa Police Department for criminal charges. The investigation is ongoing at this time.
“Animal Control interviewed the owner/dog handler, Kesean McBath, and he has not made any statements in reference to having the dogs euthanized or discussed restitution,” Vila continued. “Animal Control does not have the powers to seize the dogs at this time but will request appropriate measures through prosecution.”
When a dog attack is not intentional, charges can range from a class 1 misdemeanor to a class 5 felony, Vila noted.
‘WE NEED TO NOTIFY PEOPLE’
According to the Cooks, McBath told them he would quarantine his dogs at home for 10 days for rabies, then buy harnesses for them – they are stronger than the leashes the pit bulls were able to slip out of – and continue to walk them in the neighborhood.
Kevin Cook said the couple believes a dog that kills in such an attack should be euthanized.
“It was vicious,” said Carol Cook. “I’ve been through a lot in my life and that was the worst thing I’ve ever seen. We need to notify people in the subdivision that this happened so they can be aware of the danger.”
The Cooks have alerted the Tortosa Homeowners Association about the fatal attack.