Woman injured; dog dies in pit bull attack

Ruffy "Pops" Dunaway, a pet Chihuahua, was put to sleep Jan. 9

After a dog attack last week injured a 50-year-old woman, killed her pet Chihuahua and resulted in the euthanizing of two pit bulls – one allegedly an expecting female – the victim would like to issue an emotional warning to the community.

“I just want people to keep their dogs safe,” said Sara Dunaway Monday afternoon over the phone through tears. 

People with aggressive dogs should ensure their pets are safely secured in household backyards, she pleaded, as “the damage that they could do is horrible.”

A report filed with the Gilroy Police Department confirms an “animal bite” occurred around 1:40 p.m. Jan. 9 near the intersection of Maple and Seventh streets in Gilroy.

According to Dunaway, she was walking down Seventh Street on her way to Eliot Elementary School to pick up two young girls that she was babysitting. It was around this time Dunaway spotted a pair of unleashed pit bulls chasing a small dog near the corner of Maple and Seventh streets. Dunaway was with her dog, Ruffy, and a 2-year-old boy under Dunaway’s care.  

After spotting the two loose pit bulls, Dunaway said she called the GPD. The dogs disappeared around the corner shortly after, Dunaway said, and she continued down Seventh Street. An ice cream truck was parked nearby, she remembered. 

The pit bulls reappeared just minutes later.

The dogs spotted Ruffy and made a beeline toward Dunaway, who asked the driver of the ice cream truck to pick up the little boy and keep him high off the ground. The next thing she knew, “I picked up my dog, and then the attack started,” recalled Dunaway. “They got him; they were biting me; they knocked me down; they were dragging me.”

Passersby intervened before the GPD arrived and phoned an ambulance, Dunaway said.

The owner of the pit bulls, who was not named in the GPD report, came home from work around this time, according to Dunaway.

Dunaway said the owner had no idea how her dogs got out, but suspected “somebody let them out.”

Dunaway said the two pit bulls, one a male and the other allegedly an expecting female, were deemed dangerous by the City of Gilroy’s Animal Control Department. Brigid Wasson, manager of the Santa Clara County Animal Shelter in San Martin, said she was unaware of the incident. Euthanizing the pit bulls was likely arranged and enforced by Animal Control, she said.

Ruffy suffered severe injuries, including a broken leg and crushed pelvis. Vets told Dunaway putting her dog to sleep would be the most humane option, she said.

Dunaway is still recovering from her injuries, which consist of bites, bruises and cuts. 

If speaking up about the incident will serve as a cautionary tale, “then my baby didn’t die in vain,” she said.


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