Family dog killed by pit bull
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A Wilmington family continues to grieve a week after losing their dog. The Romano family says a neighbor's pit bull forced its way into their backyard and killed their Jack Russell. The family says the dog has attacked before and now they want authorities to hold the owner responsible.

"Lucy was my constant companion," said Melanie Romero. "We lost a family member for sure."

Romano says on November 1, she came home and discovered a circle of blood in her backyard.

"The neighbor next door told me there had been a lot of commotion earlier. He thought I had a dog visiting because there was a black pit (bull) in my backyard," said Romano.

Another neighbor told Romano that John, another neighbor, had ran out of his home calling for his pit bulls earlier in the day. Romano says she tried to get in touch with her neighbor John Tooker; hours later he returned home with Lucy's remains in the back of his jeep.

"I saw her face. I smelled death in his (Tooker) car when he opened his door," Romano said. "I was very upset."

Romano says Tooker told her that he took Lucy, who was still alive, because he did not want the Romano kids to see the dog in that condition. Romano says Tooker did not even take the dog to the veterinarian instead he went to class. She wants her neighbor to be held responsible for his dog’s actions.

The Wilmington Police Department says there are no charges filed against Tooker since there are no eyewitnesses to the attack. New Hanover County Animal Control has stepped in, recovering two pit bulls from Tooker's home. Animal control says the dogs have been deemed dangerous due to a prior incident. The recent attack means the dogs may soon be euthanized.

"It is unfortunate but we do see repeat offenders in these situations," said Jean McNeil, Animal Control Services Manager. "It is one of the most discouraging things we deal with."

Tooker says he is sorry for the Romano's loss, calling the incident a freak accident. He plans on appealing to animal control in order to save his pit bulls from being euthanized. Tooker says animal control recovered two of his dogs but only one was involved.

Romano believes Tooker should not be allowed to own any animals but according to the county Tooker would be allowed to own other pets even if the board denies his appeal involving the pit bulls that were recovered.

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So sorry to hear this story. I lost my best friend to an attack this past Easter Morning. This week I appear in front of the Forsyth Animal Control Board to present Jackson's Law to hopefully stop these attacks from occurring or re-occurring. (www.jacksons-law.org)

My thoughts go out to the family- unfortunately, I know what they are going through.

People who insist on keeping these dangerous breeds of dogs should take more care to keep them locked up so that they don't hurt others. As much as I hate that the poor little dog got hurt, it would have been a much sadder story had it been a child who was harmed or killed. If you cannot be a responsible dog owner, then you should not have a dog.

You dumb people its the owners who train them

let us just hope this piece of humanity(hehehe) is not going to BLET class!! Just what we need another off the rocker cop on the streets to contaminate the force, well he could go to work for Leland though. I am sure he'd fit in right there.

You're obsessed with cops. Way over the top. But yet you claim you have never been in trouble with the law. I think you are one of those bone heads that hate all the attention cops get. Be it negative or positive. Some people love them, that drives you nuts. You are jealous of them. I take it that at sometime in your pitiful past a cop took your woman? Maybe just maybe you will find another. Just keep her away from the men in blue. Try to remember that cops are just people, it's just a job. Just like the guy down the street that works at wally world.

I'm thinking he tried and failed BLET and has been bitter ever since.

"Romano says Tooker told her that he took Lucy, who was still alive, because he did not want the Romano kids to see the dog in that condition. Romano says Tooker did not even take the dog to the veterinarian instead he went to class. She wants her neighbor to be held responsible for his dog’s actions."

Personally, I don't think Tooker was concerned about his kids seeing the little dog in that condition. He could have made the kids stay in the house, and they never would have seen the extent of little Lucy's injuries. I believe Tooker needed time...to think about what to tell the owner, and how to talk his way out of a lawsuit. He wasn't man enough to deal with the situation head on up front, so he was trying to think of a good story to get himself out of trouble.

Character, not circumstances, makes the man. Tooker's character was revealed in this situation. He's going to have to live with that result the rest of his life.

pitbulls can be nice and calm for years until one day they turn,then they want to kill,will it be your child or pet next

So, all the people here that stereotype this breed, a question. Have you ever seen the Dog Whisperer? Ceasers main side kick and "calm dog", is and has been, a pit. When in correct and knowledgeable hands, they are a great breed!

The Dog Whisperer is nothing but baloney for entertainment purposes.

The pitbull or the pistol in the "wrong" hands is usually deadly!

this goober does not have the correct hands and Lucy paid for it.

Ceasar would be the first to tell you what a dangerous breed a Rotty is, if you don't know what you're doing. Ceasar is a professional. You said it yourself, "When in correct and knowledgeable hands, they are a great breed!" But there are many people who buy the Rotty as a "status symbol". They're not professionals, and they don't know what they're doing. In their hands, Rottys are a dangerous, violent breed.

I have had nothing but Rottys and one Doberman in my life. They all were wonderful, sweet dogs because I took the time to train them, have then socialize with other people and dogs. Not only could I take their toys, food or "prize" away from them, others could as well. You can make any breed dangerous, it is all how you train and treat them.

I want to know why this man is not being charged with aggravated animal cruelty. He has apparently admitted to police he took the dog, still alive, and put it in his car - cruelly letting it lie there and suffer (for hours???) until finally dying of her injuries. How long did she lie there crying for her family? Could she have been saved? We will never know. Denying this dog needed veterinary care - or contacting authorities to have them come and get the dog and take it to the shelter for immediate care - shows that he KNOWINGLY AND WILLFULLY allowed this dog to die a horrific, painful death.

The police need to step up and do their job -- prosecute this man for a felony.

This man should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, which I'm sorry to say isn't strict enough for animal cruelty cases.

He could have taken the little dog to the animal hospital if the vet's office was closed, instead of allowing it to die an inhumane death. He should never be allowed to have an animal again...ever. Unfortunately, that won't be the case.

What a heartless S.O.B.

TO THE PEOPLE THAT ONLY READ ONE SIDE TO THE STORY. JOHN DID NOT LEAVE HIS DOGS OUTSIDE UNATTENDED.HE BY LAW HAS A PEN FOR HIS SO CALLED DANGEROUS DOGS. HE HAS A PEN BUILT WITH CEMENT FLOORS AND PRIVACY FENCE WITH A ROOF BUILT ON SO THEY CANNOT JUMP OVER. THE DOGS WERE IN THE HOUSE WHEN THIS HAPPENED. HIS YOUNG CHILD WHO PLAYS WITH THESE DOGS ,OPENED THE DOOR AND THE DOG RAN OUT. WHEN JOHN HEARD THE DOOR OPEN AND SAW WHAT HAPPENED HE RAN TO HIS NEIGHBORS HOUSE WERE HE LEFT HIS SON WITH HER AND RAN AFTER THE DOG. WHEN HE SAW THE LITTLE DOG HE PICKED UP THE DOG AND HIS SON AND BROUGHT HIS SON TO MY HOUSE AND WENT TO HIS VET. THE VET WAS CLOSED HE SAW THERE NOTHING ELSE TO DO THAT IS WHEN HE WENT TO CLASS. JOHN IS NOT HEARTLESS.HE WAS A FORMER MARINE FOR 15 YEARS AND FOUGHT OVER IN IRAC, TO GIVE PEOPLE LIKE YOU THE FREEDOM TO BE ONESIDED AND TO SPEAK THE WAY YOU DO.LIKE THE ROMANO'S THOSE DOGS ARE ALSO THIER BABIES,AND BASICALLY THEY ARE HARMLESS. THEY ARE JUST LIKE SOME HUMANS THAT CANNOT GET ALONG WITH OTHER HUMANS.HE HAS NEVER TAUGHT THOSE DOGS TO BE FIGHTERS HE TRIED TO TEACH THEM TO GET ALONG WITH OTHERS. HE TAUGHT THEM JUST LIKE YOU WOULD TEACH A CHILD TO GET ALONG. SOMETIMES THEY JUST DON'T LISTEN. HE IS SICK OVER THIS AND YOU DON'T KNOW HOW BAD HE FEELS. SO PLEASE DON'T JUDGE. GOD ONLY HAS THAT RIGHT.

So, how would do you feel about these dogs knowing they have done this before. This is NOT their first incident.

...the Wilmington Emergency Clinic is open.

If he was a Marine for fifteen years, he was trained to think fast on his feet and out of the box. He finds one vet closed and simply gives up? He lets the dog die, scared, hurting, and all alone in a strange car?

Absolutely inexcusable conduct!

My guess is that he never went to the vet at all. I think it was just a lie to try to convince the owner that he was doing something to help little Lucy.

He's a worthless piece of trash.

I would like to disagree. There are atleast 3 vets within minutes from our home. If John was actually trying to save lucy he would have tried a different vet. Class is not as important as saving an animal that your dog attacked. He then, instead of informing us of what happened, left her in the back of his car to die for 4 hours. 4 hours of us searching and worrying trying to find our beloved dog. If i had not looked on whitepages and got a hold of John's brother i believe we would have never gotten lucy back. John is a heartless man who didnt even have the dignity to call us;, lucy had on a collar with two numbers he could have reached us on. We now have to live with the fact that our dog was practically murder. Try to put yourself in our shoes.

I knew it. No one just goes to class after something like this happens and has any kind of a heart. My guess is that he was trying to figure a way out of all this whole situation without getting sued.

Four hours for poor Lucy to lay in that car suffering and in agony is disgusting. And to have two numbers on her collar where he could have contact you is unforgiveable. I hope the law punishes him to the severest level possible, but even that won't be near enough for what he did.

I'm so sorry for your family's loss. It's heartbreaking for us who love animals, but your pain must be almost unbearable. I have an animal who is old and has kidney disease, so he won't be here much longer, but when he goes, it will be without pain and with love and comfort in my arms. I'm so sorry that you didn't have that opportunity with Lucy. But I'm so glad that, for a while, you were able to give her the all the love and attention she could possibly hope for. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Do you mean to tell me that he had that dog in his house when a young child lives there? That's irresponsible and stupid.

Nothing else he could do? The dog had a number on her collar - Nothing else he could do? He went to class? He let that poor little dog die a slow painful death in his car while Lucy's owners frantically searched for her? Thia ia the third incident involving these dogs, yet he called it a "freak accident." My son went trick or treating on that street the night before this happened. I can't even imagine to think what would happen if that animal had attacked a child. If something isn't done now, that's exactly what will happen. You call those animals "so called" dangerous dogs - he had to go before animal control after the first two incidents and agreed to abide by the restrictions - it's obvious that he is incapable of doing that and incapable of taking the proper action when "the freak accident" occurred. Those "harmless babies" killed two dogs and injured a woman who was trying to protect her dog. We do have the right to judge in this case. The facts speak for themselves, and hopefully he will be judged in a court of law.

This happened between 3:30 - 4pm on a Tuesday...none of the area vets were closed at that hour.
John was asked by his neighbor what had happened, if his dog(s) had been chasing her cats. His reply as he picked up his son was that he hadn't seen any cats and he needed to get to class.
John did not go directly to any vet. He did not do all he could to help Lucy.
Lucy had a collar on containing the owners phone numbers. John waited 4 hours to call.
Just look at the facts...

If it was me, I wouldn't have been able to concentrate in class after being involved in this situation. All I would be able to think about would be my dog tearing another animal apart and trying to get that animal some help so it wouldn't suffer. If John really was able to concentrate, then that DOES make him heartless.

But I believe John was trying to think his way out of the situation, and going to class gave him time and a good excuse (in his mind) to do that. John made a bad decision buying a dangerous, violent breed of dog. He made a bad decision to go to class, allowing Lucy to suffer and die in agony in the back of his jeep. And he's making another bad decision trying to get his animals back.

One bad decision after another. John needs to grow up, acknowledge his wrong, stop trying to get his dogs back, and make amends to the owner for the loss of her pet. It's the right thing to do.

How do you make ammends for repeat irresponsibility?

John apparently knew his dogs were dangerous, or he wouldn't have gone to such lengths to have cement floors and a privacy fence with a roof over it. These dogs were waiting for an opening to get out, and they found it.

They could have just as easily attacked a child, instead of another dog. Just because they get along with John's children doesn't mean others are safe. Eventually, they might have even turned on John or his kids. It's happened to others.

If John's vet's office was closed, he could have taken the dog to another vet's office or the animal hospital. But he chose to leave a suffering, dying little dog in his car while he went to a class. That's what really bothers people about this is that he just let this small dog suffer and die in the back of his car while he just went to class. How can anyone be so heartless to do that? How would John feel if he, himself, was injured, torn apart and bleeding, and left to die in agony in the back of someone's car?

I have no sympathy for John. He got this dog knowing it's a dangerous breed. And when the inevitable finally happened, he didn't man up and take the responsibility for that small dog like he should have. He could have been that dog's answer to dying a peaceful, painless death. Instead, he was the poor animal's worst nightmare.

God didn't tell us not to judge others. He said not to judge others UNTIL we remove the speck in our own eyes so that we can judge clearly. It's necessary for us to judge others in order to be able to judge good from evil. John is probably not evil, but he did a bad thing. He needs to man up and take responsibility for it. If anyone ever deserved jail time for cruelty to animals, it's John.

I am sure there is MORE than I vet in Wilmington!! The fact he fought in Iraq has no bearing in this matter whatsoever, it is noble he did but does not excuse his negligence in getting help for this animal. I served during Vietnam but I do not use it as an excuse for negligence. Why not miss class and seek help? Class that important? Just uncaring and no sympathy for the dog that was mauled by his dogs.
He's probably sick thinking he will be sued over this.
Sorry I feel NO sympathy for him at all, hope they out his dogs down as they are a menace to others.
Maybe he should have exercised some care and locked the door so his son could not open it or have kept them in the pen as he was supposed to do..NO EXCUSE FOR HIM MOM

There is a 24 hour vet in this town and many others who would come is called.

Sometimes you have to make an effort.