LIHUE — Three pit bulls were euthanized, and their owner cited by police, just hours after the dogs mauled a chihuahua mix to death in front of a Kekaha mother and daughter Thursday.
Lisa Serrano and her 11-year-old daughter, Sanoe, were walking their dog Lily along Kekaha Road around 7:30 a.m. when one of the pit bulls turned the corner, a dead bird hanging from its mouth.
Serrano said the dog took one look in their direction, dropped the bird, jumped a fence and charged her daughter, who instinctively scooped up her pet to protect her. Serrano said she yelled for Sanoe to drop Lily, fearing her daughter would be mauled by the aggressive animal.
The pit bull zeroed in on Lily. Then, four more pit bulls ran from inside a nearby residence, jumped the fence and joined in the attack, according to Serrano.
“We saw our dog mauled to death right in front of us,” she said.
Eventually, the owner ran outside and began hitting his dogs with a pipe to get them to release the helpless animal, according to Serrano.
She said she frantically wrapped the injured pet in a blanket and drove to the Kauai Veterinary Clinic in Puhi, where a vet told her nothing could be done. Lily’s injuries included punctured lungs, deep bite wounds to the throat and a torn off ear.
“This is something that my child will never forget,” Serrano said. “This was her best friend.”
County spokeswoman Sarah Blane said the Kauai Police Department responded to the scene and cited the owner of the pit bulls for a dangerous dog violation. The owner sustained a minor injury while attempting to retrieve his dogs during the incident, she said.
Mana Brown, field services supervisor at KHS, arrived at the owner’s residence around 9 a.m. Despite being cited for only one violation, the owner chose to surrender three of his five dogs.
“Upon intake, all three were euthanized,” said Brown, adding that he made sure the owner understood their options and knew the dogs’ fates.
“I’m not going to have another Trisha Pratt case,” he said.
Pratt’s 3-year-old pit bull, Bulla, was euthanized March 9 at KHS after it attacked a neighbor’s chihuahua mix in Hanamaulu. The owner later claimed that KHS did not disclose her other options following the attack, which including fighting the dangerous dog citation in court and allowing a judge decide the dog’s fate.
Serrano said she and her daughter adopted Lily five years ago from KHS and that it was a loved family member. And while the incident was horrible and traumatizing, she said she feels extremely lucky it wasn’t Sanoe who was attacked.
“I told her, ‘Lily was your angel because she saved you,’” Serrano said.
The mother and daughter were on their way to Kokee Thursday afternoon to bury Lily’s body.
KHS euthanized 2,915 animals last year, and around 1,000 dogs each of the last couple of years. Executive Director Penny Cistaro estimates the agency issued less than 10 dangerous dog tickets last year.