PINETOP-LAKESIDE — On Sunday, Sept. 19, three loose pit bulls mauled a Lhasa Opso and bit its two owners along the walking trail at Woodland Park.

The 8-pound dog, Snickers, sustained massive injuries and nearly died. The pit bulls also bit the little dog’s owners, Candy Masone, 68 and Marco Masone, 65 and who were visiting from the Tuscon area.

During a telephonic interview with the Independent on Tuesday, Candy Masone detailed the horrific event; a public records request to the Pintop-Lakeside Police Department was filed shortly before press time and it’s not unusual for processing to take a few days. This story will be updated as the details, as the police recorded them to be, become available.

Candy describes walking the leashed Snickers just past the covered bridge in the park, ready to take the path uphill when she noticed three big dogs with people down by the water’s edge. The people were allegedly out of town visitors. One dog was loose, and the other two were on leashes, but pulled away from their masters and “bolted” towards the Masones, she said. She described a “nightmare” attack by the “most vicious pit bulls” that she had ever seen as the dogs set upon the couple and Snickers. Candy grabbed the unleashed beast by the collar to stop the animal from chewing on the little dog, but its large head slipped through the collar and the attack continued.

In the end, Snickers sustained a fractured pelvis in six places, a dislocated hip, and eye injury and lacerations so severe they had to be stapled shut. The dog was in “extreme shock,” Candy said, and was taken to an emergency vet in Show Low, treated with medicine and kept overnight. Its hip ball was sawed off and wrapped with ligaments. The Masones have to monitor Snickers “24/7,” Candy explained and she herself is still so traumatized that she can’t sleep.

Typically in dog bite cases, the animal is impounded so that it can be examined for rabies. Rabies is an incurable disease, but if caught early enough, it can be prevented. The PTLS Town Code says that if an unvaccinated dog bites anyone, it must be quarantined for 10 days at the Town’s animal shelter, the county pound or a veterinary hospital.

According to Candy, that didn’t happen. It is possible that the pit bulls’ owner said that the dogs were vaccinated in which case the code says that the animal “may be” confined and quarantined at the owner’s home. In this incident, Candy says that an animal control officer identified as Chelsea Hass released the animals back to their owners and the Masones were advised to get tetanus shots right away, which they did. Later, Candy and Marcos was treated for puncture wounds caused by the pit bulls.

Following a dog bite, another procedure sometimes takes place.

A vicious dog may be put down after a hearing in the Town’s Magistrate’s Court. Because the identity of the owner is not yet known, there is no way to track whether anyone started that process. Candy said that Hass reportedly concluded that because the pit bulls attacked another dog, such an evaluation was not needed.

After the attack, PTLS police officer responded to the park. Candy said that the officer took the pit bull owner’s version of the story first who allegedly reported that Candy had attacked them with her walking stick thus causing their dogs to attack the Masones and Snickers. The officer’s interrogation of Candy focused on that and she said that the officer told her that it was foolish of her to try to break up a dog fight which was the action that caused her injuries. As stated, the view of the PTLS police has yet be shared with the public.

It might be noted that under a state statute in Arizona, (ARS 11-1025) dog bite cases are ones of “strict liability.” That means that if a dog bites a person in a public place, the owner is responsible, period. If the case goes to court, the injured party doesn’t have to prove that the owner was negligent, the law already established that. The only issue is the amount of damages the injured party is entitled to.

Meantime, the vet bill is around $7,500 and may go as high as $15,000, an amount that Candy says most people don’t have sitting around. The Masones have consulted a lawyer about recovering damages. They have been told that if the pit bull owner has homeowner’s insurance, that may be a source of recovery for the Masones, but some insurance companies do not offer coverage for injuries caused by pit bulls or rottweilers, she said.

Finally, the Town Code prohibits dogs at large and requires them to be leashed in public. The Code requires that the owner or custodian of an animal “shall exercise proper care and control...to prevent the animal from damaging the person or property of others,” according to section 6.04.11 of the code. PTLS police told the Masones that they have issued a citation to the pit bull owner but because the owner has yet to be identified, there are no details about the citation from court records, yet.

The Independent will update this story as it develops.

Reach the reporter at rlynch@wmicentral.com

(20) comments

cakeman

These dogs should not be allowed PERIOD! They are unpredictable and dangerous. Please don't start with the "It all depends on how they're raised". They have an inbred trait that makes them react. When we lived in Dade and Broward County Florida, if you had a pit, you had to carry a one million dollar liability policy. After several years the county finally outlawed them. If you go to an animal shelter, or pound, the most common dog there is a pit. Of all the dog attacks, the pit is the most common. If you're lacking something, get a big lifted truck or an AR15.

Justsayin141

You are so right about that cakeman. Agressive behavior has been into this breed for many years. It's how they breed generation after generation to get the most pronounced wrinkles in a Shar Pei or the calm personality in a Lab. That fight instinct is there always in a Pit Bull because they were specifically bred for years to be vicious. They should be outlawed.

swsungirl

It seems logical to me that if not only a small dog but also two humans were attacked, the dogs that attacked should of been impounded. I don’t care what breed of dog did this, it is the attacking dog’s owners responsibility to control their animals and they are liable. For the animal control officer to release these dogs to their owners care shows very little empathy for the attacked dog and people and does not well represent this community. Was it because they were out-of-town visitors and heaven forbid we should do anything but welcome them (their money) with open arms? If this had been local folks, would the outcome been different? Looking the other way does not work when public safety is at question. Our paid “protectors” are not doing very well.

JusCause

I've worked with AC officers (out of state) and I assure you this stinks to high heaven or Chelsea is just naive and dense. She does not represent AC well at all. What kind of training do they get? Sounds like none. These dogs should have been impounded immediately. I now see why the area has the problems it does. I don't know Chelsea or any AC officers here but this poorly represents this area and I'm angry those people and their dog had to deal with an officer like that. A clear lack of empathy and plain common sense.

che guevara

Back in June , I was at Woodland Lake Park one afternoon when I spotted a man with two unleashed German Shepherds running through the section of the park towards the south end of the lake area . I told him that those dogs must be leashed not only out of courtesy to other people , but because there is a leash law in town as well . This fellow became nasty and said that he had not seen any signs to that effect . I reiterated to him that the leash law exists nonetheless . He became even nastier and spewed some choice words in my direction and went about his business with the two unleashed dogs .

The following morning , on Monday , I called the PTLS Police Department to express my concerns as regards safety issues associated with dogs - at - large , especially aggressive breeds such as those two German Shepherds , and of the need for more visible and abundant signage regarding the Town's leash law . The individual whom I spoke with at the PD said that the issue of signage was not their concern and that I needed to speak to the PTLS Department of Recreation / Public Works . So then , after hanging up with the PD I drove over to the PTLS Department of Recreation / Public Works Department on Woodland Road to express my concerns in person , and request that as a public safety measure serious consideration should be given to more prominent leash law signage in the park . The answer that i was given by the woman who was manning the front desk there was , " Signs cost money ." I replied that the additional cost of a few more signs would be minimal at most , and might well help to avert a tragedy ( such as the one that has just occurred ) . This individual than went on to say that there were already sufficient signs in the park - to which I disagreed , and said that an ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure . Her disposition remained unchanged , and she stated that if people were to read the Town Code they would be aware of the leash law ( this was a non - answer ) . I then asked her who ever makes an effort to read a town's codes before they visit there , or for that matter even if they are domiciled there . Seeing what I was dealing with , I left the Public Works Building shaking my head in disbelief and disgust , knowing that just such a tragedy was sure to happen . It did . As a tax payer and citizen I am dismayed at the obtuse responses I received from our public servants .

D1420

Everyone is so quick to sound like experts on an animal that they have never owned. So quick to join the herd with an opinion that's more than half the time ridiculous. I own 4 pitbulls, I also have 2 daughters. These dogs wouldn't hurt a hair on their heads now or ever. They are just as unpredictable as any other animal or human. Some are more prone to it while others aren't aggressive at all yet you want to label them all for the bad deeds of some.. I wonder how the world would look if we started doing that to people as well.. open a book and do some actual research. Or better yet, go to your local shelter and take one for a walk, get some first hand knowledge before opening your mouth. All dog attacks are horrible, but because it's a pit, it's automatically portrayed 100% worse.

Hairy

Doesn't alter the fact that a small dog and two people were attacked.

Justsayin141

I think it's more about DNA and genes and the blueprint of what an individual lifeform is, inside and out. It's more common sense and science that makes people feel the way they do about pitbulls. Your loving opinion of them is understandable and based on emotion and that is ok.

pxllr

Sadly it is the dogs that are being blamed for this attack. Pit bulls are not inherently vicious. They are trained that way. If anything, the owners of these dogs should be charged. If a person aims a weapon at someone and injures that person, they are charged with that crime. These dogs are those weapons. When will the owners be held responsible?

2Hikers

The historical and obvious problem with pit bulls aside, we have a bigger problem with the human factor . . . . the dogs' owners and our local authorities in charge to keep public areas safe. This is just another example. They will kill a mountain lion sitting in a tree in someone's backyard with no real complaint, but do nothing about 3 vicious dogs who have attacked 2 people and nearly killed a tiny dog in a public place. Something is seriously wrong with all the agencies involved.

Justsayin141

I think we have established the fact that we are not happy with the barbaric attitude towards the animals we love here in this community. Great news is AZGF has to completely rebrand themselves into a true conservation agency instead of a hunting club in order to get Federal funding for the next 10 years. I learned so much at their online interactive meetings on this topic earlier this week. It went so well that they turned off the chat button in the final question and answer session. They know this is not going to easy and I am still mad about the cougar shooting in Show Low too. I have an opinion article coming up on it.

Clown2

The Game and Fish Dep't has nothing to do with this tragic event. Justsaying is a professional heckler on these sites and knows nothing about AZGFD which means it's easy for them to throw some stones. AZGFD is one of the most respected wildlife agencies in the country. They are way ahead of you (justsaying). Get over it! Let's pray the pit bull owners are held accountable and those wild dogs are put down.

Justsayin141

Hi Clown2. Sorry if the truth hurts. No not sorry. They may have thought they were way ahead of me but I can catch them easy at the Federal level.

Horse Rider

Carry pepper spray. It works, is easier and safer to deploy than a firearm, is considered less-than-deadly force when used against a human assailant, and is legal to carry places where a firearm is not. Two reputable brands are POM and Sabre Red. The cannister needs to be big enough to comfortably fill your hand. Partly this is to have room for enough spray to drive off the attacker. The other reason is to be able to hold onto it with your fingers while manipulating the controls with your thumb.

che guevara

One issue with pepper spray is that if there is any wind or even a slight breeze , then you had better not be downwind , otherwise you too will be assaulted by the stuff . In close quarters pepper spray can ruin your day as well as your assailant's . I often will carry bear spray if fishing in back country , but always make it a point to see which direction the wind may be blowing at any given location . My guess is that bear spray may work best for mitigating canine attacks , as well as human attacks . Many years ago during self defense training for law enforcement I was pepper sprayed from a 10 foot distance with the foam variety as part of the training program , so I know just how painful and long - lasting the burning can be from just one short blast to the face . You are however correct Horse Rider .

On another note ; the PTLS officer who responded to the attack told the woman from Tucson that she should not try to break - up a " dog fight " . This officer failed to understand that it was not a fight , but rather an attack , where one small defenseless dog was ganged - up upon by three vicious and deadly dogs . More over , what would the officer have had this poor woman do , just stand there and watch her dog get killed and most likely devoured by the three pit bulls while waiting for the police to arrive . As the old saying goes : When seconds count , the police are minutes away .... maybe . I applaud this woman and her husband for their courage . Having taken defensive and protective postures in dog attacks myself , I understand how instincts and reactions take command under such situations . These victims acted accordingly and responsibly , and they and their poor dog deserve a significant measure of justice . The public will be watching this case very closely .

Justsayin141

The public must watch this closely. This type of poorly trained police force behavior is more dangerous than helpful to us right now. This is not an inner city environment. Are these officers trained in Phoenix? They are not appropriately trained for rural communities .

Justsayin141

I hope the little dog is recovering ok.

Russ_in_WML

Justsayin has no clue as to the truth or conservation but only hear from her when her feeler gets bruised. AZGFD has nothing to do with domestic animal attacks. They do, however, have power to respond to a mountain lion preying on domestic animals and endangering humans within an urban interface. They also know when such an animal cannot be relocated but instead euthanized. Biologists know this as well as the population numbers of a given area pertaining to mountain lion or any other species. They operate on facts, not feelings.

In the case of the pit bull I am in agreement that the owners of the breed carry significant mandatory insurance and even go as far as banning the animal entirely from the county. They are time bombs.

Justsayin141

So now I'm a professional heckler with a bruised feeler. You guys make this fun. AZGF needs to align their wildlife and hunting policies to be more like adjacent states such as Calif. They are not the experts you think they are because they base their decisions on biased research. To get their funding approved this time, they have to use a huge database that incorporates all kinds of new research from actual conservation groups from all over. After that, they need to stay motivated enough to learn how to use this new data and apply it to their new business model of not being a hunting club.. I know they had no intention of doing that before the three public meetings we had. They are not liking interacting with the public much.. but that is required to get funding too.

Ridgerunner

[beam] Take the opportunity to sue their pants off. I think they will get the point after their insurance company pays the bill then drops them

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