Pit bull terrifies neighborhood

By Sylvia Hall – bio | email

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Jackson County Sheriff's deputies say leash laws are often ignored, frightening residents. Tuesday afternoon, people in one neighborhood had a harrowing experience with one pit bull on the loose.

They say it started on Orange Street outside of Ocean Springs when a pit bull ran into Steve Lance's home, aimed at a schnauzer named Princess.

"I couldn't tell if it was attacking the dog or attacking my wife, and it was a pretty scary thing," said Lance.  "I picked it up by the collar and threw it out of the house."

Neighbors said the dog's next target were five year old twins, Steven and Spencer Westberry.  The children were getting into a car with their grandmother Carol Brown.

"The pit bull started chasing us toward the car," said Brown. "And for some reason the dog set his eyes on Steven, and he started to lunge toward him as he got to the car."

They said the dog leapt partially into the car before another neighbor, David Martinez, lured the dog away with a stick. He said he was attempting to deflect the dog's attention from the boys by inviting the dog into a tussle with himself.

"I have a child myself, and she plays out in the neighborhood. And there's a lot of kids out here, so I'd expect somebody to do that for my kids, too," Martinez said.

As the dog approached Martinez, neighbors said Steve Lance approached the pit bull with a gun and shot it. He said the dog turned its eye on Lance, and Lance shot again. Police said overall, Lance shot the dog three times, ending what neighbors call a terrifying experience.

"I felt like we had to take the dog you know and put it down," Lance said. "And that's what I felt like, we couldn't have a dog like that in the neighborhood. I didn't know whose it belonged to until after it was all over with."

He found out later the owners were also neighbors. They were charged with a leash law violation. Lance faces no charges for his action against the pit bull.

Several residents said the incident reminded them of this past weekend when a child was killed in a pit bull attack in the Jackson area. They said they're grateful because the outcome here could have been much different.

"They [pit bulls] have a massive amount of pressure in their bite," Lance said. "It could snap a little child. It could snap its arm in two in just no time at all."

"You're talking about a 5-year-old kid and a pit bull," said Kristen McIlwain of the Jackson County Sheriff's Department. "It could have been worse. I think the neighbor did an outstanding job on the kids' behalf."

Neighbors say they had reported the dog to animal control earlier in the weekend.  Police say the dog was picked up Monday, but the owners came to get it shortly after.

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