SAN CLEMENTE, CA -- Two pit bulls attacked and mauled a golden retriever along the San Clemente Beach Trail on Thursday afternoon, injuring the retriever's owners and a passer-by as they tried to pull the pit bulls off, according to a witness.
"This thing was horrific," said the retriever's owner Tim Frawley of Laguna Niguel. "My daughter was yelling 'they're killing him, they're killing him, they're killing him!' Flesh was ripping off the bones.
"We were just north of the pier, past the lifeguard station, and two animals are running toward us," Frawley said. "As soon as they got there, they attacked. They tore off his ear, both legs in the front are injured, one was down to the tendon, massive tears to his back where they pulled his skin off."
Frawley and his 25-year-old daughter ― visiting from San Francisco ― were able to pull the pit bulls off with the help of others passing by on the beach trail, Frawley said.
"Somehow, someway, my daughter and I got the two dogs away -- we were sitting on their limbs," Frawley said. "I'm on 9-1-1 and I've got hold of one leg twisted around. I don't know if he's going to turn around and bite me at any minute."
Frawley said another couple of walkers took the injured retriever up behind some bushes out of the pits' line of sight.
Frawley's dog Charlie, was treated at Dr. John Agostini's San Clemente Vet Hospital and is recovering.
Frawley has stitches in his fingers, his daughter suffered bite marks and one of the "good Samaritans" who helped in the struggle sustained a broken thumb.
A call came in at 4:09 p.m. to San Clemente Police Services while the dogfight was still ongoing, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Department incident log.
A lifeguard and others also made multiple calls to 9-1-1, according to dispatch reports. Sheriff's deputies and Coastal Animal Services Authority staff responded. Orange County Sheriff's Lt. Steve Gil said that by the time deputies had responded, walkers had detained one of the dogs, and animal services took over control of the incident.
Frawley said he doesn’t know what happened to the pit bulls after the owners took them away with choker collars. It is also unclear how the dogs escaped.
"[The pits' owners] say they're going to pay for everything, but I'm not sure what my plan of action is," he said.
Both pit bulls also underwent medical treatment, said San Clemente Mayor Bob Baker in an email Monday:
The two pit bulls are currently being housed at a vets office for medical treatment. Both have bite wounds and one sustained injuries to the head after being beaten by a rock by the owner of the dog that was being attacked.
After the medical treatment is completed they will be moved by an
Animal Control Officer to our shelter for a quarantine period and will not be released back to the owners until a full investigation is completed.