EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Residents of an East El Paso neighborhood are still in shock after a dog attacked two people on Sunday, but they say this could have been prevented as they have previously reported the dog’s owners.
Multiple 9-1-1 calls were made to El Paso Police Sunday afternoon after two pit bulls bit two people along the 12400 block of Tierra Limon in far East El Paso, according to police.
Animal Control was initially requested to the scene. At around 2 p.m., a police unit arrived and an officer was forced to fire his firearm at one of the dogs because one of the pit bulls was being aggressive towards local residents, according to officials.
The dog was seriously injured and did not survive. The second dog was also taken to Animal Services and was not injured. The two people who were bitten are being treated for minor injuries.
One of the injured people was Joseph Sepulbeda. He went to his parents’ home to pick up a package when he saw one of the dogs running towards him and then bit him on his hand.
He has several deep bite marks and had to get a tetanus and rabies shot.
His father, Joey Sepulbeda, witnessed the entire incident and provided KTSM with the surveillance camera video.
He saw the officer shoot the dog.
“I’m a dog lover myself. It hurts to see that happen, but I really think there was no choice. It was a vicious dog,” Joey said.
Timothy Shallenberder’s son was also one of the victims.
“My son took off running because it was coming after him and it bit his leg and his arm before he jumped on somebody’s car across the street,” Shallenberder described the incident.
He said he had previously reported the dog owners for negligence as he saw the two dogs roaming around the neigborhood before.
Only this time, he said, he hadn’t seen the owners at their house in about a week.
Both him and the Sepulbedas believe they left the dogs on their own, with no food or water.
Michele Anderson, spokesperson with the El Paso Animal Services, said that a dog’s behavior is the owner’s responsibility and not related to the breed, in this case, a pitbull, which is often labeled as an “aggressive breed.”
A 2022 study published on Science Journal suggests that only about 9 percent of dog behaviors can be attributed to their breed.
“Ultimately, the responsibility is on us. If your pet does anything to anyone or any other animal, the responsibility is going to be on the pet parent and not on the animal itself,” Anderson explained, saying that dogs need to be properly socialized with people and other animals as well as properly trained and restrained by owners.
However, Shallenberder believes that both law enforcement and Animal Services did not respond fast enough.
He said EPPD responded to the scene about an hour after the multiple 911 calls and the Animal Services even later than that.
Anderson explained that incidents, such as this one, have top priority, especially when there are people getting injured.
“We need to make sure that the community is providing us with enough detail when calling 3-1-1,” she said, explaining if there is anyone getting injured to call 9-1-1 rather than a non-emergency number.
“Just like other departments, we are short on some staff across the department as well as across the city, but priority calls are going to be our biggest priority,” she said.
The incident is still under investigation and no further information has been released.