A man who stabbed and killed a pit bull in Owatonna Thursday afternoon won’t be charged after witnesses told police the dog attacked the man’s golden retriever.
Owatonna officers were called to the 600 block of East Broadway Street at around 12:30 p.m. Thursday for a report of a dog fight.
The pit bull, owned by Sonia Ochoa and her family, was already dead from three stab wounds when officers arrived on scene.
Chuck Hale told police that he was in his house next door to the Ochoa residence when he and his wife, Kim, heard a commotion outside. When they looked out, they saw their retriever being attacked by the pit bull and that their dog’s neck was in the pit bull’s mouth.
At the same time, Ochoa said she and her son were looking for the pit bull, named Hennessey, who had gotten out of the house.
“As soon as my son said she wasn’t in the house, I went to the back yard, and I was whistling and saying, ‘Hennessey,’” Ochoa said.
Meanwhile, Hale was trying to separate the two animals. Unable to pull them apart, he tried punching the pit bull to release its grip, but the dog wouldn’t let go.
“I tried to pull the dogs apart. I could not get that dog off my dog,” Chuck Hale said. “She’s got him by the neck. The only mobility my dog had was to try and chew on the top of (the pit bull’s) head … I’m out there trying to pull and pull, and it’s not coming.”
Hale told police he then called for his wife to bring him a knife, which she did, and he stabbed the pit bull three times.
Connie Larsen, another resident of the neighborhood, said she saw Hale trying to pull the animals apart and saw and heard him punch the pit bull before calling for the knife and stabbing it.
Ochoa said she wished that Kim Hale would have come to get her rather than going to get the knife. She also felt that it was excessive that her dog was stabbed three times.
“There was no need for three times,” Ochoa said.
The first responding officer noted that the golden retriever had fresh saliva on its fur, which was damp. According to the police report, the golden retriever was taken to a veterinarian, who reported the dog sustained bruising.
Ochoa said her son found the pit bull, which was dead by the time she got to it, on the side of Hale’s house
“I was hoping that she would look at me, or wag her tail, or something, but she was already gone,” Ochoa said, later adding that her dog was not the type to go around attacking other dogs. “People come and pet her. Every time the pizza guy comes over here, that’s the first thing he wants to do is see our dogs and pet them.”
In the police report, however, Hale told police that the pit bull had attacked his dog in the past.
Hale told the People’s Press that he and his wife have lived in the neighborhood for about a year and a half, and Thursday’s incident was the third time his dog had been attacked. After the first two times, the Hales put up a fence around their yard.
Hale said he didn’t file police reports in the first two alleged incidents because he was new to the neighborhood and wanted to be a good neighbor.
Police reports also indicate that the Hales weren’t the only family on the block that has experienced problems with a dog from the Ochoa family. Sheena Savoie, another resident of the neighborhood, said the pit bull attacked her dog in October of 2012.
The Ochoas were given notice of a potentially dangerous dog after the incident involving Savoie’s dog. The dog’s shots were updated and it was fitted with a microchip following the incident.
Ochoa did say that it wasn’t the first time the dog had gotten out of the house.
On Friday afternoon, the Ochoa family held a vigil for their dog in Central Park, holding and passing out fliers of the animal from both before and after it had been stabbed.
Bear Cardenas brought two of his pit bulls out to the vigil and said he knows the dogs have a reputation for violence, but they’re still members of the family.
“We’re here to support the (Ochoa) family and our family, which are the dogs that we love,” Cardenas said.
Captain Eric Rethemeier of the Owatonna Police Department said Chuck Hale will not be charged.
On Friday, Chuck Hale said he did the last thing he could to protect his dog, and killing the pit bull wasn’t something he wanted to do.
“I honestly wish this would not have happened,” he said.