Grandma wrestles with pit bull mix that killed her pooch

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH
  • Star Tribune
  • March 31, 2008 - 11:30 PM

A 70-year-old woman out for an afternoon stroll Wednesday with her 2-year-old grandson and her little dog in her Inver Grove Heights neighborhood was bitten by a pit-bull mix as she vainly attempted to save her pet from the bigger animal's attack.

Margaret Johnston said she was "rassling with this dog" for probably 5 minutes. "I was all full of mud and dirt."

Police believe a dog picked up Friday and confined in a pound is the same one involved in the attack. Johnston is undergoing a lengthy series of rabies vaccination shots for a bite to her right leg.

Johnston said she was walking with Schultzie, her 11-pound miniature schnauzer, as two neighbor girls pushed her grandson, Hunter, in his stroller. The pit-bull mix came up from behind them and attacked her dog.

She was bitten on the right leg as she tried to break up the dogs, but not before her pet was killed.

Then the pit-bull mix turned its attention to Johnston and pounced on her, sending them both down a hill in the 3100 block of 80th Street. She punched the dog several times.

Once the girls, on spring break from elementary school, came to her aid, the dog fled north through a grocery store parking lot.

Johnston described 13-year-old Schultzie "as a real gentle dog, a quiet, little dog" that would eat crackers out of Hunter's little hands. "He loved to go for walks."

Along with putting up with the dog bite and the many weeks of shots that have just begun, "naturally, I'm depressed," Johnston said. She said she and her husband, James, have always had a dog for the 48 years that they've been married.

The dog police seized late Friday will be quarantined for 10 days at the South St. Paul Animal Hospital.

After reviewing its history, they'll decide whether to kill it. "Of course, we haven't gotten to that point yet," Lt. Jerry Salmey said.

Johnston, who retired after 30 years as an emergency room nurse at Regions Hospital, said she had never seen the dog before and has never had trouble in her 20 years of walking Schultzie or other family dogs in the neighborhood.

Staff writer Jenna Ross contributed to this report. Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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