LUTZ, Fla.— Denise Mitchell says she’d seen and complained about a pair of dogs roaming the neighborhood for the past two weeks, but she never imagined she’d wake up to find her beloved cat Tinker dead in the side yard.
Surveillance video from Mitchell’s home shows the two dogs walking into the yard the night before their cat was found mauled to death.
“First I was crying, I was sad, then I got mad because I wanted to know what happened,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell says she made numerous calls looking to report what happened. She says the same two dogs have gotten out and been aggressive before, frightening other neighbors and going after their pets too.
“If those dogs get out again, I hope (and) I pray to God they don’t get to someone else; a kid or another animal. I don’t want anyone to go through what I just went through.”
Other neighbors feel the same way.
“When the dogs chased me I just jumped off,” said Dana Roderick as he showed us the bike he was riding when he was attacked. “They’re very strong dogs, and they’re very aggressive and they always jump for your throat.”
Another neighbor, Ida Hammond, heard her son screaming outside and says when she went to help the dogs tried getting inside her house.
“It was scary,” said Hammond. “My heart was pounding. I was afraid of the dog and my son was, too. He said, 'Mom I had to jump up on top of the car because it was trying to get me.'”
It was a similar story from Cheryl Wagar.
“They tried to tear through my screen to get to my cats, and when I went out there to try to rescue my cats, I took a broom to scare them off and that just intensified their anger,” said Wagar.
After the death of her cat, Mitchell started keeping track of all the complaints.
“We’ve had 7 in the last week in a half,” she said.
So we went to Pasco County Animal Services to find out what was being done.
“If someone contacts us to say there’s an aggressive dog compromising their safety, then we will send someone out immediately to handle that situation if the dog is loose,” said Pasco Animal Services Field Supervisor Ron Altman.
But residents who’ve had run-ins with the dogs say so far no one from Animal Services has ever shown up, even after the death of Mitchell's cat.
An officer is scheduled to head to the area to investigate on Thursday.
Altman says the complaint from Mitchell was the first the agency received.
But neighbors say Animal Services employees did know about the complaints and called to say they were too busy or too far away to respond.
There are only five animal control officers across all of Pasco County, and only one on duty for emergency situations at night.
“It upsets me there no one doing what they’re supposed to do,” said Hammond “There’s people here … there’s kids here!”