CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. (FOX 13) - A day at Clearwater Beach turned into a nightmare for a Bay Area family when their tiny dog was attacked, breaking his neck and killing him. The family says the owner of the dog that attacked walked away without offering help or contact information.
King wasn't just a pet for 16-year-old Serena Ayala. He was a member of the family. They're devastated and angry and want the owner of the dog that killed theirs to show some remorse and take responsibility.
"I decided to bring him to the beach and it was his last day at the beach," Ayala said.
Last Saturday, around sunset, Ayala had King on a leash when she spotted a larger dog nearby. Seconds later, it was chaos.
"Some owner's dog lunged at my dog and he had no leash on him," Ayala recalled. "I tried to pull my dog away as much as I can and then, the dog viciously grabbed my dog's neck and started using him as a chew toy."
When the dogs were finally separated, it was too late.
"His neck was broken, foam was coming out of his mouth, his tongue was hanging out, his eyes were just bloodshot, open," Ayala said.
That's when her mother, Tiffany Santiago, confronted the other owner.
"He kept looking at the dog and all he kept saying is, 'Oh, he's fine, he's fine,' and then, that's when you see him in the video say, 'Oh this is ridiculous' and he grabbed his bags to go," Santiago said.
A short video recorded after the incident shows the owner and others walking toward the sand as Santiago demands their phone number, which, she said, they did not provide.
After that, King and the family raced to the vet. Santiago, who's a nurse, performed CPR along the way.
"They explained the dog broke my dog's neck and stopped his heart," Ayala said.
"The dog died instantly. There was no chance," Santiago said.
That last few days have been a painful struggle for the family as they come to grips with the loss. They've contacted Pinellas County Animal Services, hoping to find direction.
"The dog is a vicious dog and it doesn't belong out in society," Santiago said.
They say they would like to see the other owner take responsibility.
"I just hope that family knows the damage they did to my dog and to me and my family," Ayala said. "That dog wasn't just my son but he was my best friend and my family's best friend and they need to know what they did is wrong and they need to keep their dog on a leash."
In Florida, leash laws vary, county-by-county. For example, in Pinellas County, any dog or cat off the owner's property must be on a leash, tether, or under the owner's physical control. Failing to prevent an "at-large" pet from hurting or killing another pet could result in a fine of at least $300.