HANAPEPE — A 75-year-old dog owner experienced her second pit bull attack in four years Friday near the Hanapepe helicopter pad.
The pit bull did not attack people, said Marlene Debrey, but would surely have killed her 14-year-old miniature poodle, Busquet, had it not been for her black lab, Brie, who intervened and kept the pit bull busy until its owner retrieved the loose dog.
“I don’t fault the dogs, because they are trained,” Debrey said. “I am faulting the person who is the owner of the dogs and would allow this to happen.”
Debrey was walking Busquet and Bri, a 9-year-old, 80-pound black Labrador, along the road above the beach about 9 a.m. near the Hanapepe helicopter pad. She couldn’t see that a man was fishing below the road with two pit bulls at his side.
One of the dogs raced toward them and attacked the poodle before she could react. Instinctively, Debrey grabbed the pit bull’s collar and tried to pull her off of the yelping poodle with a punctured snout.
The pit bull pulled the poodle and Debrey about six feet across gravel. She suffered scrapes to her knees but said the dog did not bite her.
“I don’t believe that he would have attacked me because I was trying to pull it off and it didn’t try to turn on me,” she said.
Debrey began to think this was going to be a repeat scenario of a 2009 pit bull attack in the same area. She and her son Tom Novak were walking a Chihuahua terrier when two pit bulls came upon them.
One pit bull kept them at bay while the other killed the 7-year-old poodle. It was a horrific sight to watch a dog be torn to pieces, she added.
The owner of the pit bull in the 2009 attack was fined more than $600.
On Friday, she was on her knees pulling at the 100-pound pit bull when Brie stepped in and fought the pit bull for about a minute until the owner arrived.
“Brie came to our rescue and she charged that pit bull and dragged it off even though it was bigger,” she said. “The Labrador went after the dog or it would have surely killed the smaller 20-pound miniature poodle.”
Debrey said the encounter did not do her obstructive pulmonary disease any good.
It is in remission, she said, but she experienced chest pain and was coughing for the entire day following the incident.
Police responded quickly, Debrey said. She refused medical attention and called the veterinarian about her dog.
She will take it in if it appears that an infection sets in, but the dog seems OK, she said.
The pit bull owner was courteous, she said, but when confronted with the reality of what his dog had done, he left the woman there to deal with the situation on her own.
“The owner went into denial,” she said. “He took his dogs away to the water and left me to figure out what I was going to do.”
Debrey, who owns two dogs and provides foster care for other dogs, said the situation was avoidable.
These dogs were loose near an area frequented by residents and visitors alike, she said. Dog owners need to think not only about safety but about the image of the island.
“There is no excuse for this,” Debrey said. “There is no excuse to train a dog to attack and then not leash them when they are in some place where they are not hunting.”