Family upset over plea deal in deadly dog attack case

Published: Jul. 27, 2016 at 8:41 PM MDT
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Richard Busse and his family were devastated when they lost their family dog after it was attacked by their neighbor's dogs last December.

Their neighbor was charged with unlawful ownership of dangerous dogs after the incident, and the dogs involved in the brutal attack were taken away. But now a plea deal is going to allow the neighbor to keep both dogs.

Months later, the loss of their Shiba Inu, named Kia, still hurts.

Busse recounted the horrible day to 11 News' Danielle Kreutter.

"I heard a knock at the door, a frantic knock at the door...there was an elderly man...he said, 'There are two big dogs in your backyard killing a little one!' He's like, 'They're killing it!' Then I heard the noise."

Busse raced outside.

"I saw these two huge dogs I recognize from my other neighbor. Running around my dog as he lays down on the ground. ... I pick up my dog and carry him over to the patio to check out his injuries. He's bleeding profusely, although he's still kind conscious and stumbling around. He's obviously in pain."

The Busses rushed Kia to Powers Pet Emergency, where a veterinarian report said Kia died following injuries consistent with "dog attack wounds, hypovolemic shock and blood loss."

"He just couldn't hang on anymore and he ended up passing away," Busse said.

The family was beside themselves with grief.

"He was a family member to us. He went everywhere with us. We took him on walks; we put him through training. We were just devastated. We cried for a whole week," Busse said.

The dogs involved in the attack -- an Alaskan malamute and a golden retriever-husky mix -- had gotten in the Busses' yard by breaking a hole in the fence, the family later learned. They were removed from their owner pending the outcome of a trial, which was scheduled for this week.

But the night before the trial, the Busse family got a call from the district attorney's office.

"[The office said] 'Hey there's no need for you to show up tomorrow. The DA has offered a plea deal for the defendant, and the defendant has accepted,'" Busse said.

The plea deal would allow the neighbor to keep both of the dogs that attacked Kia.

"What really frustrates us is that we weren't consulted. ... They killed another dog. They're dangerous; we expected one of them to be euthanized. That's what I know we thought would be good for justice," Busse told Kreutter.

As part of the sentencing, the neighbor is under a 12-month unsupervised probation. He has to build an enclosure for the dogs and is not allowed to own or possess any dogs other than the two involved in the attack. He will also be subject to random inspections from the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region.

11 News found the hole in the fence, and it has been boarded up -- but there are several weak posts separating the two yards.

Kreutter also tried talking to the neighbor Wednesday, but when she knocked on their door, no one answered. A dog could be heard barking inside the house.

Since Kia's death, the Busses have gotten a new dog and are scared to hear that the dogs that killed their last pet may be moving back in.

"They have killed once, they could kill again. What if it is a small child? What if it's someone else's dog? What if it's our dog again?" Busse asked.

11 News has reached out to the DA's office for a comment on that plea deal and are waiting to hear back.