The holidays were all but ruined for Marvis Robinson and her family.
Five days before Christmas their pet, a Pomeranian named Rusty, was mauled by two pit bulls in Robinson’s backyard.
On Jan. 18, Robinson was in Hinesville Municipal Court for a hearing on the matter, saying the event still lingers in her mind.
“It was quite an emotional day,” she said during a phone call. “I am trying to put this behind me.”
Roy Dixon Jr. of Ludowici was found guilty of allowing the attack and was ordered to pay $460 in restitution.
If Dixon didn’t pay the restitution by today, he was to face additional fines of $546. The pit bulls were also not to live within a block of the victim’s home.
Rusty was an anniversary gift to Robinson from her husband, Nathan, in March 2005.
“He was just 6 weeks old,” she said of the dog. “And I held it on my lap. It was a total surprise and he was a baby when I got him.”
“You know it wasn’t like he got out, got hit by a car...” she said. “He was in his own back yard. A dog should be safe in his own back yard.”
Robinson said the incident has heightened her fear of pit bulls. She said she already feared the breed since hearing of other attacks. The same morning she went to court news broke about kids being killed by pit bulls in Atlanta.
According to a Dec. 20 report filed by Hinesville Police Officer James Fulwood, Dixon was pet sitting the pit bull that lived next to Robinson. He brought his pit bull with him and let them out to play in the backyard.
Robinson let Rusty out and went to look when he hadn’t come back in after 20 minutes.
When she looked out, she saw the pit bulls in her yard staring at her. Fearing them, she called 9-1-1, who in turn called animal control.
Robinson said she then realized she had not seen Rusty. Frantically she searched inside, hoping he’d come in. Animal Control arrived and got the dogs back to the neighbor’s yard. When they searched her yard they spotted Rusty’s body.
The report said the pit bulls had broken through part of the fence.
“I just went berserk because I could not believe the beautiful little dog we had was gone… And I just can’t imagine what he went through,” Robinson said.
“My husband used to walk that dog every single day, sometimes twice a day,” she said. “Everybody knew Rusty.”
According to the incident report, the two dogs were placed in quarantine.
“It’s not something that is normally done when the attack is companion animal to companion animal,” Sally Silbermann, public information officer of the Coastal Health District said.
She said animals are normally placed in quarantine when they attack a person or if the animal may have come in contact with a wild animal that carries rabies.
“But in this case, they did quarantine the animals for 10 days to check for signs of rabies,” Silbermann said, adding they were quarantined at Liberty County Animal Control.
She said the Liberty County Environmental Health Branch of the Coastal Health District, became involved when Fulwood notified Environmental Officer Chris Gowen of the incident.
Silbermann said the dogs were released after showing no signs of rabies.
It is not known whether the dogs were returned to Dixon and calls to Liberty County Animal Control were not returned in time for this story.
A phone number for Dixon was not available.
Robinson said she has no ill-will toward Dixon, though she still misses Rusty.
“I made like a shadow box … and a picture and I have his ashes right now in a box,” she said. “It’s just hard for me to pack everything away. I just think I let him down so much.”
But she said she is ready to get another pet and plans to do so with the restitution money.
“We are empty nesters and that was our baby,” she said.