After Connecticut Yorkie’s death, officials urge people to report incidents involving dogs

PORTLAND — Lola is a bundle of happiness when she greets visitors at the door of her Main Street home, but her exuberance belies the sadness she feels when things at home settle down and she misses the “sister” she lost almost two weeks ago, says her owner.

Ann and William Barrows say their 8-year-old Yorkie Lola is still disoriented after the couple’s 4-year-old Yorkie, Lizzie, was killed Nov. 15 during the dogs’ routine late afternoon walk.

William Barrows said both Yorkies were harnessed and leashed, making their way down Main Street, when a large, black dog dashed off its porch, grabbed Lizzie by the neck and shook her, breaking her neck and killing her, according to the Portland Animal Control officer’s report.

He estimated that dog weighs well over 100 pounds.

“I tried to reach down and grab both and I got a hold of Lola,” William Barrows said. “The dog grabbed (Lizzie) by the back of the neck and broke it. The owner ran over and beat on top of his dog’s head with his fists.”

“She was a baby to us,” Ann Barrows said. “She was only 4 and she was our baby. We have two of them, but she was the one who caught your eye whenever she did anything. She was a special little dog.”

Ronald Wilcox, owner of the Rottweiler/Lab named Jake, had his dog’s leash under his foot while talking to a neighbor that afternoon. He came down from the porch and hit the dog repeatedly in the head until he let go, police said.

William Barrows ran home with both dogs in his arms.

“It’s devastating, and more devastating because my husband keeps reviewing this in his mind because he felt that he was helpless,” his wife said.

“He was able to grab Lola,” she said, choking up. “I would have lost both of them. I gave her mouth to mouth, but I knew she was gone. We brought her to the vet and they tried to resuscitate her, but she was gone.

“We knew it was too late,” Ann Barrows said.

“He screamed all the way down the street, ‘What am I going to tell my wife? What am I going to tell my wife.’ I can’t grasp what happened and there’s nothing we can do,” Ann Barrows said.

The couple drove Lizzie to Pieper-Olson Veterinary Hospital in Middletown, where she was pronounced dead.

The next day, Wilcox was issued a ticket for first-degree nuisance, having an unlicensed dog and failure to keep up to date on rabies vaccinations.

Jake is being quarantined at home for 14 days and restrictions are in place, including where he has to be on a leash and wear a muzzle while being walked, according to Portland Animal Control Officer Karen Perruccio.

She urges people to report any type of incident involving a dog to authorities.

“Even if there’s no attack, let the ACO know,” said Perruccio, who received a call from a woman who said that same dog had been aggressive toward hers in October. The woman reported it after Ann Barrows’ letter to the editor was published in the Rivereast newspaper days ago.

She signed it “Heartbroken in Portland.”

“Maybe if this lady had called when this happened to her, this dog wouldn’t be dead today,” Perruccio said.

“I regret that it happened. I’ve done everything that (authorities have) asked me to do since then,” Ronald Wilcox said Monday about Jake, who is 5.

“And it never happened before. If I see something like that in my dog again, I will take drastic action,” he said.

Perruccio said animal control officers can only be reactive if a report isn’t made about a particular incident. “It’s hard to see if dogs are loose or if there’s an aggressive dog or there’s a dog unlicensed,” she said “We can’t go door to door. Until something like this happens, we don’t know,” Perruccio said.

Connecticut state laws involving dog on people attacks far outnumber regulations for dog-on-dog incidents, Perruccio said.

William Barrows said a similar thing happened eight months ago with the same dog. That time, it was Lola, but he didn’t make a complaint.

He was walking her on a leash, heard a noise and spun around. “It was the same dog, flying down the driveway toward us,” he said.

He managed to scoop Lola up, but the dog, he said, kept jumping up toward her and somehow managed to grab her leash. The dog pulled it so hard, the collar came entirely off her neck, William Barrows said.

According to the police report, Jake was leashed and Wilcox was stepping on the leash while talking to a neighbor.

Wilcox said Jake’s actions were completely uncharacteristic.

Perruccio acknowledges that owners sometimes take all the precautions necessary but then forget one thing.

“A lot of dogs have the invisible fences and sometimes they go through the invisible fence,” she said, pointing to an incident that happened over the Thanksgiving weekend.

“People don’t know that the collar is not working until something like that happens because they don’t always check the batteries.

“Us ACOs can only do what we can do. We have laws we have to go by, too,” Perruccio said.

Wilcox’s dog was quarantined, something that’s not always required by state animal control law, Perruccio said. “But because the dog wasn’t up to date on rabies, I was able to.”

Because the incident took place at Wilcox’s home, Jake was able to be quarantined there for two weeks. If it hadn’t, Perruccio said, the dog would have been quarantined at the Portland Animal Shelter or Jake’s veterinarian’s.

“The 14 days gives us a way to examine the dog, keep track of the dog,” Perruccio said. “Is it starting to get aggressive while it’s here? If it wasn’t an aggressive dog to begin with, is there something going on?”

Thanksgiving was particularly tough for the couple.

“She was one of those where, no matter where you were, if you opened the refrigerator door, she was right there. And she knew what time it was to go for a W-A-L-K. I’d have to spell it,” Ann Barrow said about Lizzie.

Ann Barrows laughs when she remembers what a character Lizzie was.

“Every day at 10 o’clock, she would have a G-R-E-E-N-I-E (dental treat). I’d have to spell that one, too. She would sit there and wait for it. Lola wasn’t as bad.”

Lola and William Barrows now take a different route for their nightly walks, his wife said.

“He’ll take her out the front door and say, ‘Which way do you want to go?’ And she’ll head to the right.”

The Barrows ask that anyone who might like to make a donation in Lizzie’s name do so to the Connecticut Humane Society at 701 Russell Road, Newington, CT 06111.