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Dog killed in attack by pit bulls
Abby Buehler and her mother Donna Buehler hold a photo of their 5-year-old dog Buddy who was killed Monday by two pit bulls in the 2400 block of 7th Street. Donna Buehler said Buddy was close to her and her husband Jeff, but was particularly close to Abby. She said she found out through a neighbor the pit bulls were not immediately removed by authorities. "It makes me sick," she said, "And it's not right." (Times photo: Marissa Weiher)
MONROE - The fate of two pit bulls is uncertain after they ran out of their fenced yard and killed a small dog that was being walked on a leash through a Monroe neighborhood Monday morning. The 90-pound dogs were involved in a non-fatal attack on a small dog off their property two years ago.

Donna Buehler, who lives in the 2200 block of 6th Street, said she and her 20-year-old daughter Abby were walking the family dog, Buddy, at about 7 a.m. Monday. The attack occurred on the sidewalk a few blocks away in the 2400 block of 7th Street.

Buddy was a bichon frise-shih tzu mix who weighed about 18 pounds. The family had Buddy for five years, since he was a puppy.

Buehler said Buddy "did his business" in front of the home of a woman she knows. She was bent over cleaning up the mess when suddenly two dogs came running across the street.

"They grabbed him and didn't let go," Buehler said.

"Abby and I were screaming."

She held on to Buddy's leash, trying to pull him away from the attacking dogs but "they ripped him out of my hands."

The dogs, described by police as pit bulls, dragged Buddy across the street and "ripped him apart," Buehler said.

The homeowner where the attack occurred called 911 and both the police and sheriff's departments responded. An officer brought Buddy to Buehler, and another woman, who was nearby and heard the attack, drove Buehler and Buddy to a veterinarian.

The vet worked on the dog for about 30 minutes but was unable to save his life.

"The vet said he was too torn apart," she said.

Buehler and Buddy had walked on that block many times before, but she had never seen the dogs before Monday.

Typically, Buehler said, she doesn't walk Buddy that time of day, but she and her daughter were planning to go out of town and wanted to make sure Buddy got walked before they left.

Buehler's family is traumatized by the horrific circumstances of Buddy's death.

"We're sick. We're heartbroken because our family member is gone," Buehler said.

In hindsight, she said Monday afternoon, she realizes it could have been worse.

"I'm very grateful the dogs didn't maul us," she said.

Legal action

Buehler said she's troubled that such an attack would happen in her neighborhood. She's also upset by reports that the dogs' owner wasn't home at the time of the attack and that the gate to the dogs' fenced yard was left open, allowing the dogs to run out and attack.

"Dogs like that shouldn't be able to be just loose in the yard," she said.

She said she thinks authorities should have taken the dogs right away.

But where to put the dogs poses a problem, according to Monroe Police Chief Fred Kelley.

"We're doing what we can," he said, adding that seizing the dogs requires a judge's signature.

While the city contracts with Green County Humane Society for stray animals, that facility is a shelter not impoundment, Kelley said. Police have arranged a place for the dogs at the shelter, but staff needed some time to arrange an isolated place for the dogs, Kelley said. He expected the dogs to be placed at the humane society today; they are expected to remain there while the case is investigated and the case is resolved.

Immediately after the attack, the dogs were secured in the owner's garage. Kelley said officers inspected the garage and determined it was suitable to house the dogs overnight. Ironically, Kelley said, the dogs came up to the inspecting officer and licked him, indicating they are animal-aggressive but perhaps not human-aggressive.

The dog's owner, Lance Beutel of 2416 7th St., was cited for animals at large two years ago. He was fined $175 in Green County Circuit Court for the city ordinance violation.

Monday's attack was "more severe, so legal action is likely," Kelley said. Police are consulting with the city attorney to determine its next steps.

Possible actions could include a citation for allowing the dogs to be at large or a referral to circuit court for allowing the dogs to injure another dog while off their property.

Euthanizing the animals is also a possibility, he said, although police don't have the authority to make that determination.

"For the animals to be destroyed, it takes a court order," he said.

Animal complaints make up a large number of calls to police, Kelley said. Most are related to dogs being at large or leaving waste in a neighbor's yard.

This type of fatal dog-on-dog attack is extremely rare, he said, recalling only one other instance in his 35-year career in Monroe.

But he said he understands why pet owners would be upset about such an attack.

"We will take whatever steps are needed to make sure the community is safe, and second, that the community's pets are safe," Kelley said.