A Springs woman watched in horror last Thursday as her beloved Shih Tzu lapdog was killed by a neighbor’s pit bull.
The woman, Wendy Marks of Copeces Lane, huddled inside her car with her friend from New York City, Lynn Joffe, sobbing and screaming for help, as the pit bull alternately circled the car, trying to get at its occupants, then shook the lifeless Shih Tzu, Lola, clamped in its bloody jaws.
The two women had just arrived at Ms. Marks’s house after a three-hour drive from Manhattan. As they stepped out of the car, Ms. Marks held her other Shih Tzu, Henry, while Ms. Joffe held Lola, whom Ms. Marks had adopted from the Animal Rescue Fund in 2007.
“I was holding the dog that was murdered,” Ms. Joffe said Monday. “I dropped something. I put her down.”
That is when Ms. Joffe saw the pit bull. “He was two to three feet from me. He was staring at me. He lunged at [Lola], took her away. He grabbed her by the back of her neck and flung her like she was a rag doll. We watched and screamed and cried. He was circling the car and wouldn’t leave us.”
The women began honking the horn. Help came, far too late for Lola.
Ron Balcuns and Dawn Flagg, neighbors, ran from down the street.
“She was blowing the horn, screaming horribly,” Mr. Balcuns said Tuesday about Ms. Marks. He told Ms. Flagg to get into the car, and finally managed to corral the dog by its collar. The dog, reportedly owned by Christine Hawkins, was emaciated and smelled, he later said. Numerous attempts to speak with Ms. Hawkins this week were unsuccessful.
Several neighbors alleged that the pit bull, named Thunder, Ms. Marks said, had been mistreated by its owner. According to neighbors there had been more than two dozen complaints registered with the East Hampton Town Animal Control Department about the animal and the conditions under which it and a second dog, a golden retriever, were kept. The Animal Control Department did not return calls for comment.
“During the heat, they were kept in the garage. I never saw anybody walk those dogs. They would howl and bark all night,” Ms. Marks said.
Mr. Balcuns echoed her remarks, adding that when the pit bull finally got loose, “it was frenzied.”
Despite consistent complaints to the town, nothing changed.
“There was no fence,” Ms. Marks said.
Indeed, Kathryn and Gavin Menu, who live with their 3-year-old daughter across the street from Ms. Marks and Ms. Hawkins, were so concerned about the pit bull that they had a fence put in, enclosing their yard.
“My husband and I now carry our daughter to the car,” she said Tuesday.
The killing of Ms. Marks’s dog brings to mind a spate of similar incidents on June 23. In that case, a German shepherd and a husky mauled and either killed or injured several house cats on Oakview Highway in East Hampton after being allowed to roam free by their owner, Claudia Solares. Those two animals have since been destroyed, a fate that Ms. Marks has been told awaits the pit bull.
“There are no leash laws,” another neighbor, Dawn Flagg said. Ms. Flagg has written to and addressed the town board about the issue directly.
According to Ms. Marks, an East Hampton Town animal control officer informed her that Ms. Hawkins agreed to have the dog euthanized last night.
Ms. Marks has placed a memorial in her front yard, on the spot where the dog was killed, consisting of flowers, a tennis ball Lola liked to play with, and a photograph of the dog.
“She was all love,” Ms. Marks said.