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Literally, It’s a Dog Eat Dog World

More specifically: A Pit Bull Eats Chihuahua World

On February 22, 2010, at sunrise, I decided I wanted to go for a walk before doing anything else. So I put on my running shoes, put on her harness and little Nai’a’s (pronounced Ni-ah) harness and we headed out. I had Nai’a by the leash as we walked down the street to the driveway. We had almost made it to the neighbor’s driveway when suddenly, a monster dog was trying to tear at Nai’a from behind. I didn’t know where the dog came from. I spun around when I realized what was happening and screamed for help. Round and round we went. I didn’t know at the time that he was a purebred Pit Bull. I only knew she wanted to kill my dog ​​and I had no idea how to help Nai’a. I had learned by trial and error months ago that picking up a small dog makes the small dog worse off. She can’t get away and the other dog can get to her easily, but when I learned this lesson months ago, the other dog wasn’t really trying to hurt Nai’a. It smelled just a little too loud.

I couldn’t think what to do and no one was coming to help me. I tried to think as I screamed and screamed, dragging Nai’a in circles with me. I finally had a productive thought. I kicked the attacking dog in the stomach as hard as I could. The dog didn’t stop for a millisecond. He only wanted to kill my nine pound white dog. Everything was a blur, but I knew when the huge dog locked its jaws on my little dog and I knew when it started violently rocking Nai’a from side to side. I couldn’t let go of the leash and let Naia get chewed up like a hamburger. I felt so guilty for not being able to save my dear little companion. I can’t adequately explain how bad I felt about this. After what seemed like an eternity — with me still yelling for help — a young man came running out of the house next door. He ran to us, pulled the dark, violent dog off the collar and away from Nai’a. Thank God for strong, brave young men. When he pulled the dog up and away, the dog released Nai’a. Immediately, I lifted Nai’a in my left hand. She was crying and yelling the whole time, but when I picked her up she let out a dog howl, and a moment later — due to the state of shock — she latched onto my left hand with her teeth as I tried to hold her steady in my left hand. I was in and out of consciousness when the other dog was led away. I was trying so hard not to pass out, hit my head on the pavement and fail my dog ​​once again.

Another man, Rick, ran out of his house at this time. She told me to put a towel on Naia to warm her up. I made my way through the side gate with Nai’a biting my left arm. She was too terrified to let go. He didn’t know if that dog was coming back. When I tried to remove my hand from Nai’a’s mouth, she bit harder. I heard a man outside on the street yelling at Rick that it was the blonde lady’s fault. I heard the man yell something about getting a gun and shooting people. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This was a nice residential neighborhood. I felt like I might be dreaming and I needed to wake up.

Finally, Nai’a let go of my hand with her jaw as I laid her down on the backyard lawn with a towel covering her. I felt lucky that there was a towel lying on the lawn. I talked to Nai’a quietly while gently stroking her forehead and front legs. She was terrified. I stayed with her. Rick had gone into the back yard to say he was calling to see if there was a vet open early in the morning. She arrived at Urgent Care at Central Maui Animal Clinic and told them we were bringing Naia.

I only left Nai’a for three seconds to grab my cell phone from inside the sliding door. I wanted to see if Priscilla, my daughter, could meet me at the vet. Nai’a used that moment to enter the house and try to find safety in the bedroom. He was bleeding all over the floor and carpet. Her intestines began to leak from the wounds in her abdomen. I covered her with the towel again and let her lie there in the bedroom. Rick was ready to pick us up so I tried to pick up Naia again. He cried out in pain. Rick said, “Put a big towel over her head and body.” This worked. I put her in the car and Rick drove us the seven miles to Nai’a’s vet with Nai’a looking at me the whole time.

When we got to the animal clinic, Rick ran over to tell them we were there. A confident vet technician came out. He placed a cloth muzzle over Nai’a’s face and then gently picked her up and carried her into the building for immediate pain treatment. I was so grateful.

The vet came out to talk to me. He asked me to sign a consent form for an x-ray. When the lady doctor came out a few minutes later, she had the list of injuries and expenses on a printed sheet. He explained that he could probably repair the damage as long as the bladder was not involved. He said they won’t know that until the surgery starts. The cost of surgery and care would be very high — and that was if the cyst wasn’t involved and if infection didn’t occur.

I went out into the empty parking lot to cry. The sun had risen over the ridge of Haleakala. I tried calling Bob at work, but there was no answer. I cried and cried.

The vet tech’s assistant came out and said the doctor asked her to tell me that whatever I decide is not wrong. He said Naia’s spirit can be broken. I had never heard that expression in relation to an animal, but, in essence, that is what I felt and cried. I knew Nai’a would be too scared now to go anywhere. She would be afraid to go out the door to the backyard alone. He wouldn’t want to go for walks. After that horrible attack, she knew I couldn’t protect her. He knew it was a dog eat dog world and now I knew it too. I could get pepper spray, but he wouldn’t know he had added protection. She would spend her life in fear — and that was assuming it could be fixed by the doctor and wouldn’t have complications.

I decided to let the doctor give Nai’a the fatal injection that, I hoped with all my heart, would send her to a beautiful place where I would see her again — one day. I believe it is so — for good people. I believe it should be that way for animals.

Priscilla, and two of my grandchildren, Jesse and Kalisi — and Tika, Naia’s canine friend — were all with me when the doctor came in to give the injection. By then, I had spent 20 minutes in the room alone with Nai’a before Priscilla and the kids arrived. I had stroked Nai’a’s forehead and legs and told her she was a very good dog. She had a small towel on her chest and stomach where her insides were hanging out. He kept looking me in the eyes. And even with the heavy-duty pain medication, if I moved 10 inches out of her sight to get another Kleenex tissue, she would cry and scream in fear.

I miss it so much. I miss her presence. I miss her patience. When we were home, he always watched me quietly, waiting for some sign that we were going to go out for a drive or a walk. She loved jumping in the back seat of the car while I fed the chickens on Piikea Street or the feral cats across town. Nai’a had enjoyed her walks on the beach, the boulevards, the parks. She especially loved life when we were at the Kenolio dog park on nights when only her best dog friends were there. Then I would let her take off her leash to run. She was the fastest. It would run so fast that it seemed to bounce and skim the surface of the grass just as a dolphin bounces and skims the surface of water. That was why Priscilla had named her Nai’a. Nai’a means dolphin in Hawaiian.

To their credit, the people who owned the pit bull took him to the Maui Humane Society an hour after the attack and had him put down. They admitted it wasn’t the first time their dog had attacked a small dog. Later, I learned from the lady who had him that he had been chained for the two years of his life. The lady and her husband went to work all day, five days a week. In a few days, on the 22nd of February when he was one of them, their dog had managed to relax.

I am not angry. I’m sure pit bull lovers would love for me to feel bad for that poor pit bull who, through no fault of his own, was not properly socialized. I haven’t gotten to that point yet: maybe one day. For now, I’m sorry that Nai’a is no longer here. I can only take solace in the thought that none of the little kids on that street were attacked.

I have two suggestions for anyone who might be considering getting a dog — unless it’s a pit bull or pit bull mix. I suggest you all stay in your homes with your dogs and never walk them. This is the safest solution. No? Well, my second suggestion is this. If a person has a dog they really want to protect, they need to have an individual plan for the type of emergency that can occur as quickly as it did with Nai’a. If I had a can of pepper spray in my free hand, I could have sprayed the pit bull in the eyes and escaped safely with my dog. Sure, yes, Nai’a might have gotten a little in her eyes unintentionally, but she would have survived it. There are other products out there besides pepper spray that won’t kill the aggressive dog, but will cause them enough pain that they will trip over the urge to kill your dog. Pepper spray would be an option.

If there is a better solution out there, I’d like to know about it. I will not get another dog. Even if I bought the biggest, most well-trained dog on the island, and even if I took classes to become the best owner and trainer of a large dog, I don’t think the dog would stand a chance against a pit bull that hasn’t been socialized right and who is running full speed towards my dog, intent on one thing: murder.

There are hundreds of pit-bulls and pit-bull-mix dogs here on Maui. The dogs are supposed to be bred here to hunt wild boar, but for the most part, people here who buy purebred or mixed pit bulls — and those who breed them here — do so as an ego boost. They think it’s something — I don’t know what — but a kind of special feeling to have that pit bull in the family home or on the property.

I believe the real solution lies in mandatory certificate obedience classes for pit bulls and pit bull half mixes on a once a year basis. I think there should also be a checklist of socialization skills that the dog progresses through the first year and is tested — every year — on social behavior. If the pit bull or pit bull-half-mix cannot pass obedience training and socialization sessions, the dog is not safe to have around and should be put down. Chaining them is not a solution. Just ask Nai’a.

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