SANTA FE – Clifford Wright, the 74-year-old Santa Fe man police say was fatally mauled by his pit bull while he was watering plants in his front yard, loved the animal and was an advocate for the breed, according to his son.
“He wouldn’t want a lot of biased stereotypes about the dog,” Gavin Wright said Thursday. “He loved the dog. The dog was with him more than anyone. He wouldn’t change his position one bit.”
Gavin Wright said the pit bull -named Achilles – “never had any signs of violence.”
“He was very people friendly, very well-behaved,” he said. “I really am very sad for him. I still don’t know what happened.”
Santa Fe police Lt. Louis Carlos said Clifford Wright had extensive injuries and that police “walked into a death scene.” The lieutenant would not go into detail about Wright’s injuries.
“They’re grisly,” he said.
Police said they will likely seek to have a judge’s order of euthanasia for Achilles, if the family doesn’t have the dog put down.
Gavin Wright, 27, said later that he doesn’t know yet what the family might do about Achilles.
Carlos said at a news conference that an autopsy by the state Office of the Medical Investigator determined that Clifford Wright received life-ending injuries after being attacked by a single dog and for no other medical reason.
“What we have now is an aggressive dog we suspect – we know- killed Mr. Wright,” Carlos said.
Acchilles, who is between 3 and 5 years old, is being held in quarantine at the Santa Fe Animal Shelter. Carlos said the findings of the autopsy were what police investigators needed to make the case to a judge that Achilles was vicious and should be euthanized.
Carlos said police and medical workers responded to Wright’s home about 7 p.m. Wednesday. Gavin Wright told a dispatcher that his father needed an ambulance and that a dog attacked his father. The son had apparently come to the residence and found his father after the attack took place.
Police arrived at the home, on Williams Street off Bishop’s Lodge Road, to find Clifford Wright in his front yard, Carlos said. Carlos said it appeared that he had been watering his plants in the front yard because the water was still running.
Gavin Wright took Achilles inside the house before police arrived. Carlos said the dog was barking but not acting aggressively when it was taken away from the house to the animal shelter.
The dog was current on vaccinations, Carlos said, but police did not know as of Thursday afternoon whether Achilles had a city license – a requirement beyond the dog tags received when a canine gets required veterinarian shots that is widely ignored in Santa Fe.
The lieutenant said Achilles, as well as other pets at the Wright home, looked healthy and showed no signs of abuse.
Carlos said Wright owned three pit bulls, one pit bull mix, a bulldog and a dog he said appeared to be a sheep dog. Police found two prior complaints involving dogs at the home, but no one was cited in either case.
The first call was in September 2005, when Clifford Wright was bitten by a tan-and-white pit bull. The dog, which was not Achilles, belonged to Clifford Wright and was vaccinated and licensed.
The second call was in January 2011, when someone complained that a female black-and-white pit bull, also not Achilles, was running loose. No one was cited following the complaint because the dog was in Clifford Wright’s yard.
Clifford Wright used to operate the Hock Shop, a pawn business on Read Street, before he shut it down in 2004, his son said.
“He was very eccentric,” Gavin Wright said. “He was one of a kind. They don’t make ’em like him any more. He loved his family and his life. He’ll be missed by a lot of people.”
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal