Pit Bull That Killed Neighbor’s Shih Tzu to be Put Down

A pit bull that allegedly mauled to death a Shih Tzu in Springs last week will be euthanized on Wednesday, as its owner is being held responsible in court.

Lola, a 7-year-old Shih Tzu, died instantly, her owner Wendy Marks said by phone, when a neighbor’s pit bull got loose and attacked her dog on her Copeces Lane property on Thursday night at about 11:15 p.m.

Christine Hawkins, the owner of the pit bull, named Thunder, signed off on euthanasia. She had until Wednesday at 2 p.m., at which time a judge would have decided in a hearing at East Hampton Town Justice Court.

Hawkins was also charged with four violations — having a dangerous dog, under the Agricultural and Markets law, and dog at large, property damage, and harassment by dog, all under the town code, according to court records.

Marks said the dog’s owner was the subject of 25 complaints — mainly for incessant barking — from neighbors since moving into the rental house two years ago. She said she was always afraid something tragic would happen.

Her friend, Lynn Joffe, was holding Lola in her arms, walking up to Marks’ front door at her house after they just arrived to celebrate Joffe’s birthday. Joffe dropped a bag of carrots on the walkway and she bent down to pick them up, and placed Lola, who was attached by a leash, on the walk.

Just then, Joffe said, she heard a “swoosh” sound and out of the corner of her eye she saw the black and white pitbull lunge for Lola’s neck, just about 12-inches from Joffe’s face.

The dog, named Thunder, thrashed Lola’s 11-pound body back and forth. Joffe heard one “screech” come from Lola. “I knew immediately this dog was dead,” Joffe said.

Marks, who also caught the first glimpse of Thunder on her property just as the attack began, retreated with her other dog, a Shih Tzu named Henry, into her car, about four feet from where the attack was occurring. Joffe dropped Lola’s leash and sought shelter too. At one point the two friends and Henry were cowering on the same passenger seat, screaming for help from anyone who could hear, she said.

They called 911, while still witnessing the attack and honking the horn to try to scare Thunder off or alert neighbors. Though it was dark, an exterior sensor light illuminated the horror for them. “My little dog was being thrashed around like a rag doll,” Marks said.

“I was watching her lose a little baby and I’m watching this little thing get murdered,” Joffe said.

Marks had adopted Lola from the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons in 2007, after learning about her on the news. She was one of 19 dogs rescued from squalor at a house in Mastic. She went from having urine-stained paws to picking out her own “princess bed” at Canine Ranch in East Hampton. She became Marks’ lap dog.

Thunder eventually left Lola’s limp body and began circling the car, before going back over to Lola’s body. The two women didn’t even realize, until later, that the sedan’s hatchback trunk was left open during the fiasco. “It was a miracle that myself and my friend are alive,” Marks said.

Two neighbors eventually came running with flashlights. A male neighbor was able to grab the dog by the collar, she said. East Hampton Town police then arrived.

Thunder’s owner wasn’t home and it wasn’t clear how Thunder got out of the garage, where Marks said the dog was kept along with a Golden Retriever.

Marks is angry that more wasn’t done in response to the 25 complaints she said were lodged since 2010. “What does it take?,” she said, adding the victim could have been a person instead of Lola. “It could have been a jogger or the child across the street.”

She even said she is going to sell her house because she doesn’t feel safe there anymore.

Marks, and her neighbors, are now lobbying the town board to outlaw pit bulls in the Town of East Hampton and to create stiffer laws for irresponsible dog owners. They hope to call it “Lola’s Law.”

Hawkins will appear in justice court on July 30.

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