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.