Donkey dies after pit bull attack in town of Turtle

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Frank Schultz | February 13, 2015

TOWN OF TURTLE—The owner of a miniature donkey killed by pit bulls despairs of getting justice after the vicious attack, and she worries the dogs could attack again.

“God forbid if any child gets around those dogs and they decide they don't like that kid because they just tore this donkey to shreds,” said Anne Hannewall, who owned the donkey, Little E, with her husband, Robert.

Hannewall said she hired a lawyer after the donkey was attacked in the early morning hours of Jan. 31. She found out that a municipality cannot even try to have an animal put to death until the animal has caused damage at least twice.

The dogs' owner, Roseann Samuel of Beloit, had been cited for allowing her dogs to run loose on previous occasions, but no damage was documented, said Capt. Jude Maurer of the Rock County Sheriff's Office.

Samuel, 44, of 1312 Randall St., Beloit, told deputies she did not know how the dogs escaped, Maurer said.

Hannewall is dealing with the loss of Little E, the “E” being short for Eeyore, the fictional donkey made famous in A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh books.

Hannewall said they bought Little E when he was about 4 months old so children could enjoy him, and for the past eight years, that's what happened. Local children and children from Todd Elementary School visited and fed him, she said.

Her husband gave him fresh-cut grass from the lawnmower, a treat he relished, Hannewall said.

“He was a very sweet little donkey,” she said.

The two pit bulls, Rico and Lexi, apparently found their way to Anne and Robert Hannewall's rural residence from their home in Beloit, a distance of nearly two miles, and repeatedly attacked Little E, Hannewall said.

Neighbors who saw the attacks described Little E as slamming them into a tree and fence as they clung to him and swinging one of them around as it latched onto the donkey's muzzle, Hannewall said.

“We didn't hear it. We were sound asleep,” Hannewall said.

Little E died Feb. 2 despite a veterinarian's care.

Hannewall said the vet gave Little E a 50-50 chance of recovery, but it appeared that numerous wounds to its mouth kept it from eating or drinking, leading to its death.

“My biggest thing is how much that donkey suffered,” Hannewall said.

The sheriff's deputy's report describes deep cuts to Little E's face and neck.

A pony and a horse about 20 years old also were in the fenced pasture, and it appeared the dogs chased the horse but did not wound it, Hannewall said.

The horse, a mare named Tin, has arthritis. She would not get up the day after the attack and needed medication, Hannewall said.

Little E, who stood about 38 inches high, was more vulnerable, so the dogs focused on him, Hannewall speculated.

The dogs ended up in the care of the town of Turtle, which housed them for five days and then turned them over to the sheriff's office, Maurer said.

Deputies did not need the dogs for evidence, so they called the owner to pick up her dogs. When she did, they arrested her on Beloit warrants for failing to pay previous fines, Maurer said.

Samuel also was arrested on new charges of dogs causing damage and was cited for dogs running at large, untagged dogs, and not having proof of rabies vaccination for one of the dogs, Maurer said.

A family member of Samuel took possession of the dogs, Maurer said.

Samuel was released from jail Wednesday, apparently after paying her fines.

Hannewall, meanwhile, said she wishes her neighbors had come to get her and her husband instead of calling the sheriff's office. They would have shot the dogs, she said.
Maurer said rural property owners are within their rights to shoot animals that are causing damage in such a situation.

Hannewall said it appears Samuel does not have the resources to pay off in a civil suit, so “there's no recourse for us.”

The Hannewalls have worked on St. Bernard rescue, but Anne said she worries that too many vicious dogs are saved at animal shelters when it might be best to put them down.

“I really hope people will be careful when they're around these dogs that have a reputation for being attack dogs,” Hannewall said.

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