Dog attack traumatizes Socorro family

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The Socorro City Council heard about a dog at large terrorizing neighbors during the city's regular meeting Monday evening.

Lisa Loginess, who lives on Western Avenue, spoke during the public forum about her neighbor's pit bull attacking her family's male Labrador on Aug. 7. The Lab, the family's pet for nine years, had to be euthanized because of the attack.

Loginess said their neighbor was out of town when his pastor left the pit bull in the man's yard unattended. The pit bull jumped over the rock wall and attacked the Loginess' Lab. Her children, ages 10, 7, 5 and 3, and her nephews were outside at the time and witnessed the attack.

"It was a horrific scene," Loginess said. "There was blood everywhere and we were trying to get children to safety, us to safety."

Loginess said her Lab freed itself and ran into the house, but the pit bull pursued.

"The pit bull continued to chase and attack inside our own home, while the children were there," she said.

Loginess said they were able to get the pit bull out of their home, then she called the police. She said Socorro Police Department and animal control officers responded, but they had to chase the pit bull all the way up to Tech hill to catch it.

Loginess said the neighbor apologized and said he would probably leave the dog at the shelter to be put down, "and we believed him." But last Thursday, the neighbor said he can't have the dog put down. He told the Loginesses he has to pay a fine, but if the city would waive $300 he could afford to send the dog to a place in Arkansas.

Mayor Ravi Bhasker reviewed what happened in Municipal Court. The pit bull was taken to the animal shelter and its owner cited. However, the judge found a technicality with the citation; "vicious" means a dog has attacked a person, according to the city ordinance under which the owner was cited. The judge then dismissed the case because the dog attacked another animal.

Bhasker said the city cannot refund costs to the pit bull's owner. He suggested officers cite the owner again under the appropriate ordinance, and put the judge on notice that the pit bull killed the Lab.

Loginess, who cried a lot during her address to the council, remarked the ordinance includes people and livestock.

Bhasker noted even if the animal attacked a person, the judge has discretion not to order the animal put down. He asked Loginess if she was afraid to go outside.

"Yes," Loginess affirmed, adding her two youngest children won't go outside at all since the incident.

She said before the neighbor adopted this one, he already had another pit bull that would "go crazy" when it saw any of her family members come out into the yard.

Russell Moses, the pit bulls' owner, then addressed the council.

"It's very, very unfortunate, what happened," Moses said. "I see that … I take responsibility because I did want to take this dog in."

Moses said he first saw the pit bull in Albuquerque while looking for a dog for his sister.

Moses was out of town when his pastor, along with the pastor's children, visited the Albuquerque pit bull. The pastor reported the dog to be lovable and good with the children. Moses told the pastor to put the pit bull in Moses' yard since he would be home in a couple of days. Moses said the incident happened the day he came back, before he arrived home.

He said he rescued the pit bull and had never said he would let the dog be put down. He said it's not a vicious dog according to the city's ordinance, and has been deemed by the judge as not a vicious dog. He has children living with him, and said he would never have the dog if he thought it was vicious.

Moses said his other pit bull spends time with the boxers at his Bootcamp Boxing Gym and never caused a problem. He added he's spent thousands of dollars on his gym and volunteered there many hours to benefit the community, and doesn't make any money from it.

Moses said the dog is gentle, and sleeps with his 15-year-old child.

"This dog doesn't need to be put down, and I'll fight it," Moses said.

Bhasker said the pit bull hurt the Lab so bad it had to be euthanized, and left the Loginess family terrified.

"I don't know how we can just blow that off," Bhasker said.

Bhasker said if the pit bull were sent to Arkansas and something terrible happened there, Socorro's name would be connected to the incident. He also said the council understands Moses' good works done for the community, but that was not relevant in the present discussion.

Alfred Jojola, director of the city's animal shelter, said Moses' pit bull was at the shelter from Aug. 8 until last Friday. On a few occasions, when another dog was put in an adjacent kennel, the pit bull "would go ballistic" trying to get at the other dog. Jojola thought the pit bull was vicious, and tried to talk the judge into not letting the dog go.

"Unfortunately, she gave me an order to release the dog, which I did," Jojola said.

Moses his costs are up to $700 and he was not at the meeting to argue about keeping his dog, but to ask the city to refund $300. He added the judge suggested he be charged only half the impound fees and not be charged the reclaim fee.

Bhasker said he will look into the matter administratively and let Moses know something by Thursday.

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