It seems like only yesterday when Johnathan Wong and members of his family went to the Kauai Humane Society shelter in Puhi, and his son struck up an instant connection with a 3-year-old male pit bull-Shar-Pei mix.
It wasn’t much more than a month ago that Wong adopted the dog, and the man who has trained and raised many dogs for hunting was certain he had a winner as a family pet on his hands.
A few weeks later, the dog apparently used his nose or paw to open a gate in the Wong’s fenced-in yard in Wailua Houselots and attacked a Wailua Houselots woman, wounding her seriously enough to put her in the hospital for a week.
“I don’t know what went wrong. I have no idea what got into him,” said Wong, a mason who has most recently been working in the Puhi area.
His children used to ride on the dog’s back, and Wong said he was certain the animal would provide good protection for his family and property in an area known to be a place where drug-dealing and other crimes occur.
“That was the nicest dog we ever had. He was a great guard dog,” said Wong. “I don’t know what got into him that morning.”
When he heard the screams of Brenda Zafirides and came to find the dog attacking her in the middle of Haleilio Road, he called the dog off, and the dog returned to the yard and sat down as if nothing had happened, Wong recalled.
He tried to comfort Zafirides and had his wife call 911.
Cited for a leash-law violation by Kaua’i Police Department officers the morning of the attack, Wong said KPD officers told him that by law, he didn’t have to have the animal destroyed.
The hunting-dog owner in him, however, knew differently. “See, I’ve owned dogs before,” and hunting dogs, specifically, are taught to draw blood from the animals they hunt. Once they draw blood, they acquire a taste for it, he explained.
Officials from the Kauai Humane Society came to his home shortly after professionals in the American Medical Response ambulance left to take Zafirides to Wilcox Memorial Hospital, Wong said.
He signed the papers to allow the Kauai Humane Society personnel to take away the family pet and to have him destroyed, Wong said.
He reiterated what he told Zafirides several times that morning, and later in the emergency room and her hospital room: “I’m sorry. I just wanted to keep telling her I’m sorry.”
- Paul C. Curtis, associate editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or firstname.lastname@example.org