CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. - A Clayton County couple is grieving the loss of their dog. The family says "Bella", a Shih Tzu, was attacked and killed by two pit bulls that live in their neighborhood. The couple is furious animal control officers returned the dogs to their owners.
On September 6, Tony Valdez says he was sitting in the garage of his Hampton home. At the time, Bella was running around the yard on a leash. He says the two dogs came out of nowhere and started their attacked. Valdez grabbed a long knife to fight off the dogs. He stabbed one.
"I feel like I didn't do [my] job as a father," says Valdez. "I didn't defend my child, and that's why I suffer. The next day after that I had to call the crisis line and I was one for hours."
Valdez, who is an Army veteran, says he has PTSD and hearing problems. Bella helped him to remain calm and alerted him to various things around the house.
Valdez's wife has a number of questions about the entire situation.
"Why? Why Bella? How did it happen? How did these dogs get out," wonders Kimberly Valdez.
Mrs. Valdez says she fell into depression during treatment for breast cancer. Shesays Bella helped her be a light during that dark time. Mrs. Valdez wants to know why animal control officers returned the dogs to their owner instead of removing them.
"I said to him 'this doesn't make sense. My dog was killed. My dog was like my child. to me it was my child because I have not kids.'"
Clayton County Police told FOX 5's Kerry Charles that after the incident an officer asked the couple if it would be okay to return the dogs. The department says they agreed.
"No, that's fabrication," says Mrs. Valdez.
The department also says had the dogs attacked a person they would've been removed immediately.
After the attack, Mr. Valdez says the dogs went up the street where he and a friend stopped them from attacking three children and another small dog.
A responding officer's incident report says he located the house where the dogs belonged and saw their cages were broken. As a result, the owner faces several citations including dog bite having the animals off of a leash. The owner has been ordered to keep the dogs inside until a judge determines what's next.