ENID — Rhonda Morgan said when the dogs attacked, her instincts took over. All she could think to do was keep her daughter away from the teeth. "It was the most terrifying thing I’ve been through,” Morgan said. "Those dogs were intent on my daughter.” Around noon April 11, Morgan said she and her 2-year old daughter, Madison, were playing in the front yard of their Enid home. She said two pit bull terriers appeared and headed for her daughter. Another terrier mix from the neighborhood joined in the frenzy, as did a German shepherd, Morgan said. "I reached down to grab her, tucked her head under my neck and folded myself over her. My only thought was not to drop her,” Morgan said. The dogs snapped at her legs, fracturing her right ankle and leaving bites and bruises on both legs and up her back side, Morgan said. Neighbors heard her screaming and ran out to subdue the animals with rakes and shovels before a police officer patrolling the area saw the commotion. The police siren scattered the dogs. Morgan said she required more than 30 stitches and she is on crutches. Madison was bitten once on the thigh. Mark Buchanan, owner of the two dogs police said initiated the attack, said he is dumbfounded. He said he has several pit bulls that have grown up around his children, nieces and nephews without incident. "I couldn’t believe that this happened,” Buchanan said. "You can say a million times that my dog would never do it, but you turn around and they do.” Buchanan is allowing the city to euthanize the two dogs. A third dog that belongs to another neighbor was also taken in by animal control. Buchanan said he agreed for the dogs to be put down to avoid risking another attack. He thinks part of the problem stems from pit bulls’ reputation. "We’ve had to keep them away from the world because people are so scared of them,” Buchanan said. "To you, it’s a part of your family and to them, it’s a dangerous dog. If they don’t get to be around people, they don’t know how to act around them.” Morgan said the dogs lived in a yard behind hers. She said she had expressed concern to Buchanan. "No one wants to get involved in others’ business, but it became my business very quickly,” she said. "In hindsight, I should have let someone who has the know-how check it out.”
"I couldn’t believe that this happened. You can say a million times that my dog would never do it, but you turn around and they do.”
AT A GLANCEWhat leads to attacks? Kaylan Head, a dog trainer from Oklahoma City with more than 25 years of experience in canine behavioral problems, said dog attacks are often oversimplified. Certain breeds of dogs are more likely to exhibit some behaviors she said, but it isn’t as simple as problems with the owner or the pet — it’s both factors and the consequence of irresponsible breeding. "Some breeds have a genetic propensity to shake, bite or chase,” she said. "Years of breeding for certain physical qualities and temperaments have resulted in extreme behavior in some types of dogs.” Although people understand this at some level, she said, there is often a misconception by pet owners that their pet won’t behave this way or that they can handle it. Head said these behaviors can be magnified when dogs are in packs. She added that people need to be more educated on animal behavior. Stiffer consequences could also cause people to think more carefully on the types of dogs they bring home and how they raise them. "A big, dangerous dog is as dangerous as a gun,” she said. "People would think twice about the number and type of dogs they kept if they knew that if those dogs did anything, they would go to jail.”
WHAT’S NEXT?Three canines’ fate Enid police Capt. Dean Grassino said two people were ticketed relating to the dog attack and that three dogs are being held by animal control. Mark Buchanan faces up to six charges and nearly $2,000 in fines for not having his dogs licensed, breaking leash laws and for possessing dangerous animals. Another neighbor, Darla Hill, also was cited, Grassino said. Animal control officers are monitoring all three dogs to make sure they do not have rabies. According to Grassino, none of the dogs were licensed or had received veterinarian-administered rabies vaccinations. Buchanan’s dogs are scheduled to be euthanized in the next two weeks and Grassino said Hill’s case is scheduled in court April 29. A judge will determine whether her dog should be considered dangerous. Grassino said Enid city codes outline a series of conditions to be met in order for owners to keep a dangerous pet. Pets can be deemed dangerous if they’ve acted in a manner that a judge rules as hazardous. These cases are complaint-driven.