Bradenton, Florida -- A fifteen month long battle to free two dogs has ended.
A Manatee County judge ruled the Australian Shepherds were dangerous and, by state law, had to be euthanized. They were put down Thursday evening.
"They're the world. They're my heart and soul," said Karen Erskine about her dogs, 8-year-old Buck and 11-year-old Bill. Thursday afternoon with the clock ticking, Erskine still believed they could be saved, but time was not on her side.
She had until 7 p.m. to spend 30 minutes with her dogs to say goodbye. If her vet did not euthanize them by 11:59 p.m., Manatee County Animal Services would carry out the judge's order.
"No one provoked those dogs to attack," said Bob Wallace. According to a police report, Wallace witnessed Erskine's two Australian Shepherds attack a 13-year-old boy on Christmas Eve 2012 in the Panther Ridge Neighborhood.
Wallace said, "He just sitting there standing straddling his bicycle. The dog jumped on him, knocked him over, they started eating him up."
Wallace had the boy get in his car. By then, he had been bitten three times. He said, "The back of his leg right behind the knee -- a big huge piece of meat hanging there."
The dogs also bit a homeowner while he tried to secure them. Wallace described the dog's behavior that day as "very wild" and "very dangerous." "I believe they should be put down," said Wallace.
Erskine said an attorney from Arkansas had offered to help, filing one last motion in court to delay her dogs' deaths, but by 6 p.m. that motion had been denied and Erskine prepared to euthanize her dogs.
Erskine said she will fight to change the law to better clarify what is a considered "dangerous" dog. She will also work on improving living conditions for animals that have to be caged for a long period of time because of legal disputes like hers. Buck and Bill were at Animals Services for more than 450 days.