Samie Moretti watched in horror as a pit bull bolted into her home and clamped its jaw down on the neck of Lacy, her fluffy white poodle.
In a flash moment the 11-year-old said felt like a lifetime, an aggressive canine careened through a cracked-open side door and into the Moretti’s home on the 7400 block of Hanna Street at 1:45 p.m. Nov. 10. The dog barreled into the pantry, sinking its teeth into Lacy and killing her instantly.
“We don’t know where it came from,” said Samie, who was still visibly shaken by the incident several days later. “It just barged in.”
Samie’s grandfather, Junior Moretti, grabbed the pit bull by the collar and hit him with his hands, trying to get the dog to let go of Lacy. Junior was finally able to corral the pit bull outside, but could not get the aggressive dog to release the poodle from its clasped jaws.
Samie was screaming hysterically in the midst of the bloody scene but was able to pull herself together enough to collect her 2-year-old brother Elijah from the porch, lock the door and dial 911.
The pit bull finally dropped the poodle in the backyard, Samie’s grandmother Sandra said, and began ramming into the side door of the house over and over again. Samie leaned against the door as hard as she could, afraid that the dog would go for her baby brother next.
“This was a pretty brutal thing for my grandbabies to have to experience, and right in our own home,” said 50-year-old Sandra.
Junior continued to beat the dog with a stick before it finally tore off and ran eastward down Fifth Street.
That was the last time the Morettis saw the pit bull, which they had never spotted prior to the attack. The family describes the dog as being light tan in color with a white patch down its neck and stomach. It also wore a black collar embedded with rhinestones.
The Morettis didn’t take Lacy to the vet. Her limp body and bloody neck made it clear she was dead.
Samie, who lives with Sandra and Junior, teared up on Tuesday afternoon when she talked about Lacy, the 6-year-old black-and-white designer poodle that had been in the family for six years.
“It’s like she knew when we were sick. She would lay by your side like she wanted to take care of you,” Samie said.
Six days after the attack, the family is heartbroken and still stunned at how something like this could happen in their own home. They’ve offered a $500 reward for the capture of the pit bull and are working with police to find the dog’s owner.
“I am in fear to let my grandkids out of the house anymore, not with that dog on the loose,” Sandra said.
Gilroy Police are on the lookout for the pit bull, and have sent the case to their Animal Control Officer Maria Cabatingan for follow-up.
Cabatingan said that officers have been cruising around, searching for the dog and knocking on doors near the Moretti home – the working-class neighborhood full of older craftsman style family houses just a block or two west of downtown – but have come up with no major leads. But police aren’t giving up.
“I mean, the dog came in their home, you can’t get much worse than that,” she said.
Police Sgt. Pedro Espinoza said it’s “very important” that GPD locates the dog. “Our concern is that this dog could kill another family pet or attack a human being.”
Gilroy City code breaks down “dangerous dogs” into three categories. A dog who bites a person or another animal causing serious injury or death is considered a “level three” dangerous dog – the most dangerous dog outlined by the City – and the canine is to be euthanized after the owner is given a chance to appeal.
Prosecution cannot take place under the City ordinance, but the owner could also face criminal charges if the District Attorney decides to prosecute under state law, depending on whether the owner knew about the dog’s dangerous tendencies, or if the dog has an aggressive history.
Saturday’s incident at the Moretti household follows a string of pit bull attacks in South County in the last year, most recently the gruesome attack on a dachshund and its owner in front of Starbucks on First Street in July that caused the dachshund to be euthanized. This was preceded by an attack in June against an aging horse in Morgan Hill that led to the horse’s death. The incidents have been a source of heated controversy among those who believe the City should ban the breed, and others who argue on behalf of the breed, saying the fault lies with the pit bull’s owner.
Sandra said she sent her grandchildren off with her son for a few hours Saturday after the attack while she and her husband scrubbed their home of the blood.
“You wouldn’t believe all the blood that was on the floor, and walls,” she said.
Sandra is hot to find the dog, but insists that she is not interested in taking its owner to court.
“I want people to know that I am not out to sue the owner. I just want something to be done about the dog. It’s about safety and getting that dog off the streets,” she said.
Espinoza encouraged anyone with information about the pit bull linked to this incident to call the GPD at (408) 846-0350.