By Julie McDonald
As she has done every morning for years, Aime Silvestre opened the back door of her house on King Road on March 29th to let out her fluffy, white Yorkie Pomeranian. On that cold Monday morning, 11-year-old Seline trotted outside, followed by the family’s one-year-old Pomeranian Chihuahua, Missy.
Aime and her husband Oscar Silvestre had to drive their son to a specialist to have his ACL checked, which was torn during a Winlock Middle School soccer game.
Minutes later, when her youngest daughter logged on to the internet for her Zoom class, Aime opened the back door for her pets. Only Missy ran through.
“Usually they go out, do the business, and then turn around again,” said Aime.
She yelled for Seline, who kept trying to come in. After looking for her children, Aime put on her slippers to go outside. When she yelled for Seline again, the door slammed behind her. A large beige lab mix turned to the sound, looked at her, and ran.
“Then I see Seline.” Aime cried when she remembered seeing her precious little pooch lying on the floor, motionless, red blood stains on her white fur. “I knew something was wrong.”
She screamed and cursed the big dog. “What did you do?” She cried. “What did you do?”
When she started after that, she yelled at her eldest daughter, Yaretsi. “Get papa.”
Aime lost sight of the dog, ran back into her yard and picked up her cherished pet, cradling the torn and torn lifeless body. She saw her 13-year-old son Oscar hobbling on crutches with a bat in hand. Fourteen-year-old Yaretsi ran outside, but luckily 10-year-old Jazlyn was in her Zoom class.
Aime handed the bloody dog to her husband and asked him for help to tell her that Seline would be fine.
“What happened?” he asked.
“It’s a big dog,” she said. “That is how it goes.”
They couldn’t find the dog and had to go to their appointment. Oscar wrapped Seline’s body in a tarpaulin and placed it in a trailer. Everyone was crying.
On the way home from the date, Oscar called the sheriff’s office to report what had happened. The Seline family later buried them under rocks in their front garden flowerbed.
They mourned, as did little Missy, who had been mothered by Seline since joining the family. The two played together during the day and snuggled together at night.
I found out about the family’s heartbreak through a Winlock Community Facebook post from her neighbor Joanne Cobbs, accompanied by a photo of Seline.
“For the owner of the big beige dog who wanders King Road from time to time when you wonder why he came home with blood on his face, it’s because he has this lovely little girl in her own backyard killed in front of her family. Cobbs wrote. “The children are devastated.”
The next afternoon the big beige dog wandered back into the Silvestre’s yard and sniffed the place where Seline had died. Yaretsi chased it away with the bat. Oscar rushed home from a rental property he and Aime were showing to a potential renter and photographed the dog that turned out to have been reported in the past.
Unfortunately, what happened to the Silvestres is pretty common.
Lewis County Sheriff Rob Snaza said her office – and Smokey Padgett, a County Health Department code enforcement officer – are receiving reports of dogs that may kill other dogs every three weeks.
The sheriff’s office complains daily about barking dogs, loose animals, neglected horses, puppy mills, or canines killing chickens and pets. For this reason, three years ago, he asked the Lewis County officials for a police officer to investigate animal complaints.
“We spent a lot of money getting the deputy sheriff to respond to animal calls,” said Snaza. “He did a great job for us. It’s been a huge benefit since we had it. “
If a dog kills a neighbor’s pet in their back yard, the aggressive dog’s owner could be cited. The animal is often quarantined to see if it is a dangerous dog. If this is the case, the owner must insure the animal to cover any damage.
A dog wouldn’t be euthanized immediately for killing another animal, Snaza said. Before this can happen, it must be declared dangerous and the case must be heard by a judge.
“Please take care of your pets and respect your neighbors as these things happen more often than we’d like,” said Snaza. “And, as I said, my biggest fear is that these dogs might chase people and attack young children.”
When I spoke to Snaza, he mentioned that a Vader woman who was visiting a Winlock house on Military Street had been attacked by a German Shepherd who had torn off part of her scalp. The first shepherd had greeted her kindly, and then the second dog attacked her and tore its scalp open. She survived after treatment in the hospital.
“If a dog attacks a person, they definitely need to be quarantined,” said Snaza. “We have to make sure they all had their shots.”
Then a decision would have to be made to quote the owner.
Snaza recommended that owners of private property protection dogs put up warning signs so people know they need to be careful. He said reports of dog bites increase in the summer, when people camp and children visit friends or family members.
The Silvestres are waiting to hear from Padgett. They worry about what will happen if the dog attacks again – maybe a child this time, maybe even one of their children.
And now, when Oscar Silvestre leaves early every morning to work at the Lewis County Road Department, Aime puts on her coat and shoes, keeps Missy on a leash, and leads the petite pup outside … even into her own yard.
Julie McDonald, a personal historian from Toledo, can be reached at email@example.com.