Two women — one an 86-year-old senior, the other a 27-year-old jogger — fought desperately with everything they had to save their dogs from separate vicious pit bull attacks along a walking path in Rocky Mountain House on Monday.
“I was hollering like a mad banshee. ‘Get away! Go home! Stay away!’ and I kept swinging this big stick,” 86-year-old Theresa Kokesch told me on Tuesday.
Likewise, “I started screaming as loud as I could cause I didn’t know what to do,” said Jenna Ellefson, 27.
If it weren’t for a number of Good Samaritans coming to their rescue, the women believe the two attacks by loose, marauding dogs could have been worse.
The owners of the injured dogs now face hundreds of dollars in veterinarian bills.
The incidents began when Ellefson was out on for a jog with her dog Dakota on the Loop, a popular five-km trail in Rocky.
Ellefson had Dakota, a five-year-old Belgian shepherd cross, on a leash. She heard other dogs viciously barking at another dog on other side of the fence.
This isn’t good,” she decided, and turned around, but suddenly dogs that she describes as three pitbulls charged toward her and Dakota.
“At this time, I’m terrified. I know what’s going to happen and they attacked my dog, and all this barking, growling and biting her, and she’s yelping and they’re like literally dragging her away from me.
“I looked around and found a stick and was hitting one of the dogs that had Dakota around the neck.
“The stick was like breaking on (the attacking dog’s) back. So I had no stick left so I start kicking them cause I’m thinking they’re going to kill her. There’s three of them.
“I kicked so much that I could hardly even kick anymore because I was so exhausted.
“They weren’t letting go. … It was like I was a fly or something, so I’m just screaming as loud as I possible can.”
Three high school students showed up, as did two men, one of whom saw what was happening as he drove by on the highway. He stopped his white van and ran to help. One of the students called 911.
“Finally we got the dogs off. … It took all those people kicking and hitting them.”
But it wasn’t quite over. One of the attacking dogs came back.
“We had to beat him off again.
“At that point I just realized holy crap what just happened to me and I just burst into tears. …
“There’s kids and babies and strollers and families on (the Loop). Like you wouldn’t think that it wasn’t safe,” said Ellefson.
Two of the dogs, one brown, one black, then carried on down the path. And at about 11:15 a.m., they encountered Theresa Kokesch, who was out for her daily walk with Shelly, her daughter Audrey Kokesch’s six-year-old golden Labrador, on a leash.
When the dogs began to attack the lab, Theresa was unable to pull them off. She also tried to kick them. They started dragging Shelly into the bush.
“They did leave once but they came right back again and I finally picked up this big honking branch and that’s what finally drove them away.
“But they just stood apart until help came down the path. There were people that came finally and helped me.”
One of the people who came to help was a woman who was pushing a handicapped girl in a wheelchair. She started beating the two dogs with a stick as well. She helped keep them at bay so that Theresa could grab Shelly.
“Shelly … kind of crawled to me and she was all bleeding with her leg hanging … I was just almost hysterical.” She asked a man to call her daughter. The man and the high school students helped carry Shelly to Audrey’s car so she could be taken to the vet.
Audrey said her mother is visually impaired. “She’s kind of like Mr. Magoo. Everybody knows her. … Like she’s 90 pounds, 86, four-foot nothing.”
“Right now I am sore and tired,” said Theresa.
“You keep reliving the incident. What should I have done? What did I do or what didn’t I do that I should have, and I keep seeing those two dogs chewing away at Shelly and not being able to pull them off. I tried that. I tried kicking,” said Theresa.
“I’m sorry to say that I don’t like (pitbulls) very much because of the way they behaved and treated Shelly and me. I have heard through the years ‘Oh that’s not true. They’re nice dogs.’ All of a sudden, you know, they were right on her.
“They just went at her right away. Just so vicious. The throat area and her leg is just gone more or less. They pulled the muscle and skin right of the bone. No I don’t like them very much at all,” Theresa said, who was taken to the hospital to be checked out and has soft-tissue injuries.
Police reports have been filed. Rocky Mountain House RCMP did not want to comment, referring me instead to Alberta Animal Services, which is contracted by the town.
Alberta Animal Services did not return my phone call before deadline.
However, Todd Becker, Town of Rocky chief administrative officer, said two of the pitbulls were captured and are now being assessed. The other is believed to have made it back to its owner in Rocky, where it may still be.
“As a town, our primary responsibility is to ensure the citizens and visitors of Rocky Mountain House are safe. Obviously when people and animals are subject to an attack … I certainly have a serious concern about that.
“This is of course a priority of their’s (enforcement team) and they will be continuing on with the investigation and … any actions based on that investigation needs to be moved forward expediently as possible.
“In this case there are several witnesses who have come forward to provide statements.”
Meanwhile, Ellefson’s vet bill was initially $663 and is expected to rise.
Dakota has several puncture marks to her legs, ears, face and a tear under an armpit.
“Dakota will survive, thank God. If I didn’t scream as loud as I screamed no one would have known what was happening and I have no doubt she would have been killed in front of me.”
Audrey Kokesch’s vet bill was $1,200 and is also expected to increase with further treatment. A muscle was torn off Shelly’s right leg. The dog has so many stitches, Audrey can’t count them.
“These dogs were out to kill,” she said.