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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover County Dog Court is back in session. Today, the court heard a case we told you about last week.

As you saw ONLY ON 3 A family’s dog was attacked and killed by two pit bulls in its own backyard. Today the Romanos and the Tookers met again in Dog Court to find out what will happen with the Tookers’ two pit bulls.

Neighbors of the Tooker and Romano families filled the room thursday to testify to what they know about the Tookers’ two pitbulls, Z.J. and Zeus. Most agreed that the two dogs were aggressive and a threat to the community.

“We’re all fearful when we walk down the street, because we don’t know if those dogs are gonna come out,” Melanie Romano said.

At least one of the pit bulls attacked and killed Romano’s Jack Russell terrier Lucy. She says this is not the first time the dogs have shown aggression in the neighborhood. She feels the owners have let their own dogs down.

“They knew of the numerous attacks,” Romano said. “They didn’t care about the rest of the public or care about their dogs enough to protect their dogs and keep them on their own property.”

John Tooker did not want to speak with us on camera, but he told the board that his son accidentally let out the dog that killed Lucy out of the house. His dogs had previously been cited as dangerous because of other incidents in the neighborhood.

The Dog Court board ultimately decided to uphold the decision to euthanize both dogs because of the multiple issues.

“To hear the board look at pictures of Lucy and say no dog should have to die that way, it’s awful,” Romano said.

Romano says she feels like her family now has some justice for the the loss of their dog, but she hopes stronger regulations will be put into place for dangerous dog owners.

Tooker told neighbors he plans to appeal the board’s decision in superior court. We will stay on top of this story and let you know what happens.

Comment on this Story

  • Guest1

    What if that were a small child in the yard???????? Need to really think about this outcome..

  • As the proud parent of 6 dogs (4 pit bulls, 1 great dane and 1 aussie/ border collie)… I believe Tooker should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
    – Failure to contain his animals
    – Failure to train/socialize/exercise his animals (the most common causes of aggression) and commonly referred to as neglect
    – Failure to have adult supervision over his animal 100% of the time

    It embarrasses me to claim Pit Bull advocacy when we have pit bull owners like this in our midst. Its no wonder over 75% of our society is in fear of this breed and opts to ban them. What if Lucy was a human child and killed by the two dogs? To the Romano family, I extend our deepest sympathies for your loss. Please do push for more stringent dangerous dog laws in your community, but Please do not hold this blatant act of irresponsibility against ALL Pit Bulls and their owners.

    Not a threat, rather… a reality: People like Tooker, beware as people like me steal dogs like yours (and rehab / rehome them) and are gunning for you. You are a sorry excuse for a human and have no business owning any animal or producing off-spring.

    Chef David Edelstein
    and Team Pit-a-Full
    Denver, CO

    “Responsibility & Accountability… Ownership, Legislation, Community”

  • GuestJean

    Denver Co. ? I thought pits were banned in Denver.

  • DogMan

    The dogs need to die. The fight to keep them alive is a fight to deny responsibility for your dogs and thier behavior. Own up to your animals and your failure to control them.

    The dogs will die becuase of YOU, Mr. Tooker. Try to explain that to your son, it’s your fault, not his.

    You make me sick!

  • greenie

    Tooker, have some integrity, be a man (a former marine no less), and own up. It doesn’t matter who let the dogs out, the fact that they could be let out, and were dangerous, is enough. Everyone has the right to own animals, but that right ends when they harm other animals or people. You would sound like so much less of a loser if you would admit you were wrong, apologize on camera to the Romano’s, and maybe provide restitution for another jack russell (if they wanted one.)

    By the way, your other dogs better not get “let out” because the neighborhood is watching keenly…

  • Guest20

    Although I hate to see animals euthanized, I think it was merited in this case due to an irresponsible owner. It’s too bad we don’t have tougher laws for pet owners to prevent this type situation from happening in the first place.

    I’m hoping the Romano family will sue Mr. Tooker for the death of little Lucy, and for their pain and suffering at losing a member of their family.

    There was absolutely no excuse for this whole situation.

  • As a proud owner of a pit bull that sleeps with my cat I have to say the outcome should be that these animals be put down. The sad truth is the owner raised these dogs this way. When pit bulls are born they are not killers, but like every other puppy they just want to be raised right in a loving home with proper owners. The owner should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. They should also take away the right of these owners to ever own an animal in the future.

    The loss of the Jack Russell is tragic and my heart goes out to the family, and neighbors.

    Shaun O’Rourke
    Gracie’s Friends


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