Texas was Shirley Sawatsky’s best friend.
But two American pit bull terriers took her dog from her right in front of her eyes.
“He’s so special. He loved me so much,” Sawatsky said of Texas, her King Charles spaniel.
Tears run down her cheeks as she recalls the morning of Nov. 16.
“I hesitated that day about walking because I was having a bad day,” she said. “But it was the first sunny day we had in days and Texas loved it, so we walked.”
It was a typical morning walk, around 9:30 a.m., and they were making their way home along Mary Street in Chilliwack outside the former Branch 4 Legion when she heard a sound.
“I could hear them huffing and coming at me… a hundred miles an hour.”
She didn’t see where they came from, she could only hear their heavy breathing as they drew near.
“They were ready to kill. You could feel it, sense it.”
They came so fast, she didn’t have time to pick up little 14-pound Texas. They went for his neck first and his collar came off. She whipped the two pit bulls with the leash in her hand, but it did nothing.
“They grabbed him right away and tore him to pieces.”
And then they ran off.
Not one soul was outside when it happened.
Neighbours who saw and heard the commotion came out to help about a minute later. Sawatsky was not injured, but a man held her in his arms so she wouldn’t collapse, she recalled.
“Hearing those big things coming at me and I couldn’t save him. I couldn’t save him,” she said with tears in her voice.
RCMP and Animal Control attended the scene right away and neighbours told them which house the dogs had come from.
RCMP are not investigating as Animal Control took conduct of the investigation, said RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Mike Rail.
Angelique Crowther, Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) manager of communications, said both dogs were licensed and are registered as American pit bull terriers.
“Following this incident, the FVRD designated both dogs as ‘aggressive dogs’ under Fraser Valley Regional District Animal Control Regulation Bylaw No. 1206, 2013,” she said in an email to The Progress on Dec. 7.
Under Section 24 of the bylaw, the dogs are to be kept securely confined in an enclosure; or on a leash and under the immediate care and control of a competent person; and muzzled to prevent it from biting a person or other animal. The FVRD also implanted a microchip so the animals can be identified easily in the future.
Sawatsky was shocked to hear at the time that the two dogs who killed Texas would not be put down. She’s also afraid they might attack again, and it might be a child next time.
According to FVRD bylaws, an aggressive dog would be destroyed if: the dog owner were to destroy the dog on their own; or the dog owner were to turn over their dog to the FVRD to be destroyed. A ‘dangerous dog’ would be destroyed if a provincial court judge made an order to destroy it under the Community Charter.
The owner was charged a fine of $500 for each dog under Schedule A-3 - Dog Causing Death 17(g) in FVRD bylaw offence notice enforcement bylaw No. 1415, 2017.
Ever since Nov. 16, Sawatsky said she can’t eat or sleep and she constantly replays the horrific incident in her mind.
“I’m just a basket case,” she said on Nov. 30. “I go past there twice a day to see the pit bulls in the window. I want them to die. They’re so evil.”
The Progress later found out one of the dogs was handed over to Animal Control.
“We can confirm that the owner turned over one dog to the FVRD for humane euthanasia,” Crowther said.
After Sawatsky spoke with The Progress, she drove past the house on Sunday, Dec. 5 and ended up speaking with the dog owner. Sawatsky finally got an apology.
The woman hugged her and said she felt badly, Sawatsky said.
“She said ‘I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry. I wasn’t home when it happened.’”
The apology brought a bit of comfort to Sawatsky, who said Texas was the only friend she had.
“That dog was like a human being to me. He understood me and I understood him.”
She only had Texas for 14 days, but she’d known him and bonded with him for nine years. Sawatsky’s daughter used to own him and when she couldn’t care for Texas any longer, she gave him to Sawatsky.
“He was such a lively, bubbly puppy when he was with me. He acted like he was about two years old.”
Sawatsky said she saved Texas three times. Over the years, he had eye infections and 12 teeth removed and Sawatsky was the one who took him to the vet, paid the bills and cared for him afterwards.
That’s how they developed a special bond.
“He loved me for saving him,” Sawatsky said. “I guess he saved me this time.”