George Barreras and Alejandra Rivera, who fought back tears, with 13-year-old Sophie in the backyard of Rivera’s home on Friday. The heartbroken family is looking for answers after one of their elderly dogs was attacked at the Hampton off-leash area earlier this week.
The 12-year-old Yorkshire terrier suffered a broken back and numerous other injuries.
For more than a decade, Alejandra Rivera and her two elderly dogs, Sophie and Chasta, were a tight-knit family — but earlier this week, that family was torn apart.
Rivera and her brother-in-law want to see changes after what she says was an aggressive dog attack at a Saskatoon off-leash area that left Chasta, a 12-year-old Yorkshire terrier and a long-time family pet, dead.
Rivera says she was at the Hampton off-leash area on Wednesday with her two dogs. She says she was carrying her 13-year-old dog, Sophie, when a large dog ran over and picked up Chasta, shaking the small dog violently and throwing it into the air.
Rivera, originally from Colombia, says she was able to get Chasta away from the attack. She approached the owner about taking responsibility for the aggressive dog — one of three at the park — but he downplayed the situation and left without providing any information, she says.
Chasta was taken to the Western College of Veterinary Medicine Small Animal Clinic, but later died from her injuries, which included a broken back in four places. Rivera says she’s trying to find a way to preserve her beloved pup, and is seeking out a taxidermist who works with small canines to take on the commission.
Rivera and her brother-in-law, George Barreras, are asking the owner of the other dog to come forward and take responsibility.
She says she doesn’t understand how a fellow dog owner could be so cruel.
“I would say to him, how can he look at his face in the mirror,” she said, fighting back tears. “How can he look into his eyes in the mirror knowing that a little tiny dog was happy, and his dog just went and bit him so bad, and he just really didn’t care.”
Barreras says the family would also like to see conversations about an off-leash area for small dogs, or small-dog hours at existing areas, in Saskatoon. He worries it may be a child who will be attacked next.
“This individual has to be stopped,” he said. “Because the combination of aggressive dogs and a careless owner always ends in a tragedy.”
Dog owner Brenda Squair, who was at the park with her pup on Friday, was horrified when she heard about the attack, saying it’s like a “hit and run.”
“It just makes me sick to my stomach,” she said. “It’s awful.”