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Auburn woman on mission for leash law after poodle’s death

Remorseful pitbull owner could be facing charges, Animal Services manager says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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An Auburn woman’s weekend was turned upside down when her poodle, Lucky, was killed after a pitbull attacked it outside a county park. Auburn resident Delta Wilson-Ricky, 76, said she had just returned from a walk Sunday afternoon and was outside her home on Parkway Place, across from a park. “I was directly in front of my house, directly in front of the South Park,” Wilson-Ricky said. “It’s a county park. And I was with my little poodle on a leash, a short leash. And bounding out of the park at full force was this young pitbull that lunged, absolutely lunged … and its paws hit my chest, threw me back into the bushes. I did not get hurt any way. But I hit hard. I had my little poodle clear up under my chin.” The pitbull had not been on a leash, even though there was a sign outside the park stating that dogs should be on leashes, Wilson-Ricky said. The dog’s owner, Auburn resident Santiago Napoles, tried to help get the dog off Lucky, Wilson-Ricky said. “(The pitbull) had his teeth buried from the back into her body and he was crunching down and the young man … he literally had to pry that pitbull’s teeth out of my dog,” Wilson-Ricky said. “He had to pry that dog’s mouth open. She passed out immediately. Her head dropped.” Wilson-Ricky said she ran screaming into the house, and she and her husband left immediately for the veterinarian’s office, after Napoles handed them his business card. “At that time I’m covered in blood,” Wilson-Ricky said. “She at this point rallied a bit. She recognized me, licked my hand, let me move. The vet and my husband extracted me from my seatbelt and had to almost carry me into the hospital because I was hysterical.” Lucky died in the office. Wilson-Ricky said Lucky was a rescue dog who had previously been abused. She and her husband had had her for less than a year. Mike Winters, program manager for Placer County Animal Services, said a complaint was filed with Placer County Animal Control. “It’s still under investigation at the moment,” Winters said Tuesday afternoon. “We are … waiting on a statement from the veterinarian … as well as a statement from Mrs. Ricky and the (pitbull) owner.” Winters confirmed there is a sign outside the park that states dogs must be on a leash in the park, and that not all county parks have leash signs because there is no leash law in the county. However, dogs are supposed to be under an owner’s control when out in public. Winters said it is possible charges could be filed in the case. “It is possible,” Winter said. “That is why we are going to look at the statements. It kind of depends what the statements are.” Winters said Animal Control will take into account the leash sign when considering charges. Winters said there could also be restrictions put on the dog, but at this point the department is not requesting the pitbull be destroyed. “There’s not enough evidence to support that at the moment anyway,” he said. Napoles, who was with his wife and two children in the park Sunday, said he has offered to cover as much of the couple’s veterinarian bills as he can and that he feels badly about the incident. “I feel horrible for what happened,” Napoles said. “We never had a situation like that. I never expected my dog to attack another dog. My dog is just growing now. He was a puppy a couple of months ago. We never thought he was going to attack another animal. He never attacked anything before.” Napoles said he has had the dog for about three months. Napoles said he didn’t see the leash sign outside the park. Napoles said he wants to make sure an incident like this one “never, never happens again” with his dog. Wilson-Ricky said she doesn’t blame Napoles, but is on a mission for change. “I in no way blame the dog or the owners,” she said. “I want that really, really clear. I know for a fact they were remiss, derelict in their duty by not having that dog on a leash. However, it was a dog new to them, they did not know the history of that dog as far as I know, and they were as upset as I was. I want Placer County to put teeth in a leash law, where every dog is on a leash like they are supposed to be. And if they are vicious they need a muzzle. I am not going to be still. I am going to raise a noise. I am known in this community. I am going to speak in front of the supervisors at their next meeting.” Wilson-Ricky, who said she was attacked by another pitbull a little over two years ago, said she has contacted supervisors Jennifer Montgomery and Jim Holmes. She said she also plans to contact Auburn Police Chief Valerie Harris and Sheriff Ed Bonner about her goal for the county. “This is the United States of America and it is a crime that a senior citizen or a child is not safe in their own home,” Wilson-Ricky said. Wilson-Ricky said she is still shaken about Lucky. “We loved her with an unconditional love and she was our princess,” she said. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com