A 71-year-old Vietnam veteran remains hospitalized in Charlotte after his arm was “severely mangled” by two pit bull dogs as he was putting up Christmas decorations in front of his York home Sunday, police said.
Police shot one of the dogs after Buddy Owens was bitten so severely in the yard of his Oklahoma Street home that he had to be taken to Charlotte for emergency surgery, said Owens’ step-granddaughter, Kelly Mitchell.
“He was outside working on the lights when this happened,” Mitchell said. “He’s such a sweet man. A good guy. A great guy. What happened is just shocking.”
Owens is a retired textile worker who was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, family said.
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The damage to Owens’ arms is severe – especially his left arm that “took the brunt of the damage,” Mitchell said. Owens already has had one surgery and faces several more.
“He has a long road to recovery,” Mitchell said. “He is in a good bit of pain. We are focused on getting him better.”
Police responded to Owens’ home after calls came in that Owens was being “attacked by two dogs.” When officers arrived police saw two dogs running near Owens’ home, according to a police report. A neighbor came out to talk to police before the dogs chased her back to her home. One of the dogs hit her door as it was “trying to get to her,” the report states.
The officer was within a several feet of one of the dogs, which was “barking and growling,” police said. The dog came within five or six feet of the officer before the officer shot the dog once in the face, the report states.
The officer returned to assisting Owens and found “extensive damage” to Owens’ muscles in both the left forearm and biceps. The officer gave emergency medical care to Owens until an ambulance arrived.
“The officer even gave first aid to Buddy,” said Mitchell. “York police were amazing, and we thank them so much.”
York County Animal Control was called and the owners of the dogs – who live two doors down the street – were cited for violation of leash laws, York police said. The dogs are in the custody of county animal control officials.
One of the dog owners, Robert Miles, said Monday that the dogs are 1-year-old dogs that are a mix of Boxer and American Pit Bull Terrier. Miles said he is “extremely sorry” for what happened, describing it as a “freak accident.”
“I’m praying to God this man will be OK,” Miles said.
The dogs did get out but have been raised to not be aggressive, Miles said. Miles added that he believed that a stun gun or something other than a gun fired toward the dog may have been a better alternative.
“I don’t think it was right to shoot my dog,” Miles said.
York police are continuing to investigate, Chief Andy Robinson said.
The family of Buddy Owens said he is looking at at least a week in the hospital, but hope to have him home by Christmas.
“We are all hoping to get Buddy home in time for Christmas,” Mitchell said.