Audrey Johnson, 16, was walking her energetic 7-year-old miniature schnauzer, Bella, back from Stephen Harris Park in El Dorado Hills shortly after noon on Saturday. She ran into her Riviera Drive neighbor Felicia Raquipiso, who lives directly across from the park’s parking lot.
Raquipiso warned Audrey that Spider, the family’s medium sized, one-and-a-half-year-old un-neutered pit bull, was loose and she should pick Bella up to protect her.
Audrey spotted the black and white pit bull. It approached, barking aggressively. “She said the dog wouldn’t bite me, and to stand behind her,” said Audrey. But the dog was undeterred and lunged at the schnauzer that Audrey tightly clutched in her right arm.
The puncture wounds that stretch around the breadth of that arm are a testament to the dog’s ferocity. “You can see the size of his jaw right here on my arm,” said Audrey on Monday.
After the initial attack Audrey dropped the frightened and writhing Bella, who became Spider’s next victim. “He had her in his mouth and was shaking her and dragging her around,” she said.
With Bella, Audrey and Felicia all screaming at the top of their lungs Spider eventually dropped Bella. Felicia routed Audrey and the wounded schnauzer into her house on the 2600 block of Riviera Circle, with Spider nipping at their heels.
Audrey called her parents, who live several houses down the block. Dawn Johnson came running down the street barefoot in shorts to her daughter’s defense. But she had to get through Spider, who was postured to defend his home.
He threatened Dawn and was “going totally berserk,” according to a neighbor who helped her get past the dog.
Neil Johnson appeared shortly by car, armed with a large rock, and gained access to the house with the intent of taking his daughter and dog to the doctor and vet, respectively, but Spider wouldn’t let him out.
Raquipiso eventually got Spider confined to the back yard. Neighbors called 911. El Dorado Hills paramedics arrived and took Audrey to Mercy Hospital in Folsom, where she was treated for multiple puncture wounds. Neil Johnson took Bella to Lake Forest Animal Hospital in Folsom for similar treatment.
A county Animal Services officer arrived and captured Spider, who is now under quarantine at the shelter in Placerville. Chief Animal Services Officer Henry Brzezinski confirmed that the dog is current on its rabies vaccinations but remain in quarantine at the shelter until an investigation is complete
Lino Raquipiso, Felicia’s father and Spider’s owner, visited the Johnson’s on Sunday and apologized, but didn’t offer to pay the vet bills which are $700 so far, with more visits to come.
The Raquipisos have not yet been formally cited, but possible charges could include an aggressive dog running at large citation, said Brzezinski.
“A petition could also be filed through El Dorado County Superior Court to determine if the dog should be declared potentially dangerous or vicious,” Brzezinski wrote in e-mail.
The Johnsons and their neighbors said the dog has a history of escaping his yard and threatening pedestrians. They also heard that Spider killed another Raquipiso dog in the yard.
On Monday, Dawn Johnson stroked Bella’s head, steering clear of the multiple puncture wounds on her back side. The whimpering schnauzer was bruised, tender and heavily medicated, but the family was optimistic that she’d survive.
El Dorado County’s 2002 dangerous dog ordinance requires owners of dogs declared dangerous or vicious to take specific steps to safeguard the public.
Violations of any of these conditions could result in a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not exceeding $1000 or 6 months in jail, or both. Animal Services advises anyone who feels threatened by an animal to immediately report it.