SANTA FE — Police have filed charges of keeping vicious animals and allowing them to run at large against the owner of two pit bulls that mauled a disabled woman and killed her pet Chihuahua on a Santa Fe street last week.
Police Capt. Aric Wheeler said Monday police filed the misdemeanor charges in Magistrate Court against Gerard Mathews, 23, who police say had been cited previously for letting dogs run free.
In the next couple of days, Wheeler said, Mathews will likely receive a criminal summons ordering him to appear in court to answer for misdemeanor charges of keeping vicious animals and letting animals run at large.
The charges against Mathews offered little comfort for Anne Stills, 62, who was bitten on her thigh, elbow and hand during the pit bull mauling but couldn’t save her long-haired Chihuahua named Lillie.
Stills said Monday that she still misses Lillie, her companion for more than eight years.
“I’m having nightmares,” she said. “I can’t sleep. My wounds will heal. My heart will never heal. You cannot bring back a loved one like that. She was more than family to me.”
Animal control officers also are seeking a judge’s order to keep the two female pit bulls, Roxxy and Nyla, in the Santa Fe Animal Shelter and Humane Society until Mathews appears in court.
The dogs have been under a 10-day quarantine since the attack on the 600 block of West Alameda on Nov. 12. They could be euthanized by a judge’s order.
Stills said she wants a second person charged in the attack — a woman who, according to Stills, tried to hold back the pit bulls during the mauling and said they belonged to a relative.
Stills said a 3-foot-high wall on the property where the pit bulls came from wasn’t enough to hold the dogs back, which she said makes the woman responsible, too.
Stills said she has poor vision and did not notice a “beware of dogs” sign at the house until she stopped to leave a memorial to her dead pet.
When Lillie was killed, Stills was walking the Chihuahua on a leash not far from her apartment in public housing.
Stills said she also wants pit bulls out of the City Different.
“I’m not going to let this go,” Stills said. “There will not be pit bulls allowed in the city limits. I am going to make certain of that.”
She said she’s willing to search for reports of pit bull attacks across the country. “There is something wrong in the heads of these dogs; I don’t know if it’s in their DNA,” Stills said. “They can be the most loving things and just snap for no reason. They need to be eradicated.”
Many dog lovers, however, support the breed and blame attacks on owners or poor training. In October, the Santa Fe Animal Shelter held a special pit bull adoption event in connection with National Pit Bull Awareness Day “in an effort to raise awareness about the dog(s) and their responsible owners,” the shelter said in an announcement.
“Pit bulls often get a bad rap,” the announcement said. “That’s one of the reasons people who own the so-called bully breed and those who try to find homes for them work hard to dispel the myths.”
Last year, a pit bull was euthanized after Santa Fe police said it killed its 74-year-old owner.