BY LOUISE R. SHAW
Clipper Staff Writer
NORTH SALT LAKE – An evening walk in the hills above Wild Rose Park turned frantic earlier this month when an off-leash dog attacked another dog on the trail.
Dave and Keeley Hellberg frequently hike the trail with their dogs, T.J. and Koda, both on leashes.
They had walked most of the two-mile trail on Friday, Nov. 1, and were within a quarter-mile of the park when three dogs, all off-leash, approached.
“At least two of them were pure-bred pit bulls,” said Dave Hellberg. “One of the dogs, almost as soon as he saw us, made a bee-line and attacked.”
As his wife grabbed their second, smaller dog, and kicked the other dogs away, Hellberg and the owner of the three dogs worked “desperately,” he said, to pry open the jaw of the attacking dog, who had a grip on T.J.’s ear and cheek.
After finally separating the two, a second attack occurred.
“As we were trying to get back on our feet, he lost control of the dog and the dog attacked T.J. again,” said Hellberg, this time biting the dog’s thigh.
“It is so irresponsible for an owner to have those dogs up there,” said Hellberg. “What if a toddler had been on the trail?”
As they hurried to get their dog to a car and a veterinary hospital, Dave Hellberg realized he too had been bit.
They didn’t get the name of the owner of the three dogs, who, said Hellberg, “was just as terrorized as we were.” He was very apologetic, said Hellberg, and said he came to the trail in the late evening because there are not usually other people on the trail.
Hellberg said he and his wife “dressed him down,” countering that there are always people on the trail and homes are within 300 feet.
Since the attack, Hellberg has learned that dogs are not permitted off leash in Davis County anywhere other than their own yards.
He also has learned that 73 percent of fatal dog attacks in the United States have been by pit bulls, which make up only five percent of the dog population.
By sharing their story with Clipper readers, the two hope to send the message that dogs must be kept on leashes, thereby preventing others from having an experience like theirs.
“We’re lucky the other dogs didn’t join in,” said Hellberg of the attack. “It could have been really bad.”
Veterinary care for T.J. so far, has included stitches and staples and has cost $2,000.
He said T.J. is still struggling, but added, “I think he’s going to be OK.”