The first thing Roseanna Saenz noticed when she pulled into her driveway Thursday morning was the wide-open backyard gate.
Her dogs were gone.
She said she searched the streets until she chased down a neighbor and heard what happened. Her two bull terriers were shot and killed as they attacked a neighbor's dog.
Saenz said she doesn't blame the neighbor who killed her pets.
“If I were there, I would have got the gun myself,” she said, wiping away tears.
The woman who fired the gun, Charlotte Maughan, was walking her family dog, Mollie, across the street when two dogs attacked.
Neighbors arrived and tried to help pull the dogs apart, Maughan said. They used rocks, their feet, a broom and a metal rod to try to end the fight. Maughan said nothing could deter the attacking dogs.
Maughan eventually went inside her home, retrieved her husband's gun and fired three shots, killing both of Saenz's dogs.
Saenz and her husband, Manuel Torres, were cited for failing to confine their dogs and not having current rabies vaccinations for the animals. Maughan was not cited.
Saenz said she is sorry for what happened to Maughan's dog, and she hopes Mollie recovers.
“We'll help them however we can,” she said.
Mollie underwent surgery Thursday. She is improving, though the long-term outlook is still uncertain, according to a spokesman for Oklahoma County Commissioner Brian Maughan, who is Maughan's son and Mollie's owner.
Saenz said her dogs spend most of their time inside or in the backyard. They have only escaped one other time — last year when a snowstorm knocked down part of the fence.
The metal fence around Saenz's backyard is taller than she is, and the door is secured with a heavy latch. But Thursday morning, the gate was broken, and a chunk of the latch was lying on the ground, she said. Saenz said she suspects someone tried to break in and encountered her dogs.
“Someone tried to get in,” she said. “I think they were trying to get in the home, and they were surprised by the dogs.”
Saenz said her neighborhood is known for break-ins. She and her husband recently had a car window repaired after a theft, and a cousin's car also was broken into while at her home.
“We always have the same problem of people breaking into our cars and our houses,” she said.
Charlotte Maughan, the woman who shot Saenz's dogs, said that's the reason she learned to fire a gun in the first place. She earned her concealed-carry permit about a year ago. She got the permit with encouragement from her husband after a rash of neighborhood robberies and break-ins, she said.
Saenz said she and her husband have felt lost since their dogs died.
She flipped through photos on her camera Friday afternoon, pausing to look at pictures of her two dogs. Vader taking a nap under a blanket. Bella wearing a sweater at Christmas. The pair cuddled up on their dog bed.
Her dogs were sweet, she said. They were playful.
The first dog, Vader, was a gift from Saenz to Torres three years ago for their first Christmas as a married couple.
In November, the couple got Vader a companion: Bella.
The couple haven't been able to have children, so the dogs were like their kids, Saenz said.
“We love bull terriers,” she said.
Both dogs were loving and smart, but their personalities were different. Bella was sometimes aggressive toward other female dogs, Saenz said. She said she is worried that is what triggered the dogfight.
But at home, Vader and Bella were sweet, she said. Every night, Vader would trot into her bedroom, slip his nose under her fingers and flip her hand onto his head. She'd pet his ears, and the dog would return to his bed to curl up with Bella.
“They're not mean dogs,” she said. “We didn't train them to be mean dogs.”