Dog-bite victim questions slow response by San Bernardino authorities

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (KABC) -- As a San Bernardino woman recovers from a serious German shepherd attack, she is wondering why authorities were so slow to respond to her 911 call and made little effort to track down the dog that bit her.

Two weeks ago, Penny Holt was exercising along Valencia Avenue in San Bernardino when she spotted a woman on a bike alongside a German shepherd making their way toward her.

Holt saw the dog was not on a leash, so she froze.

The German shepherd's ears perked up, it focused on her and charged. She put up her arm to protect her neck and face as the dog attacked, causing serious muscle and tissue damage.

"I just remember the flesh being ripped from me," she recalled. "There is nothing you can do about it."

Randy Souza, a retired Los Angeles firefighter who lives across the street, and his son, an EMT, rushed to her rescue, helping wrap her wounds and calling 911.

"I've seen several animal bites," Souza said. "This is the worst animal bite I've ever seen."

Souza said they waited and waited for help to arrive. It took nearly 30 minutes before an ambulance was on scene.

In the meantime, the unidentified woman just got on her bike, took her dog "and walked away like no big deal," Holt said.

No animal control officers or police had responded.

In the hospital, doctors were able to successfully reattach the muscle and tissue in Holt's arm.

Then Holt waited again for city authorities, expecting police or animal control to take a statement.

She kept waiting.

When no one contacted her, she called animal control herself.

"Nobody ever came," she said. "For two days I called."

The city of San Bernardino recently disbanded its fire department, turning over emergency services to the county. However, the attack occurred six days prior to the switch.

No one from the city responded to a request from Eyewitness News for comment on the issue.

But the San Bernardino Police Department said a miscommunication about the severity of the bite may be to blame.

Lt. Rich Lawhead said the attack should have gotten a bigger response.

"It should have gotten some sort of police response, I would think, if someone would have known the bites were that significant," Lawhead said. "Somebody should have, especially from animal control, looked in the area immediately for that dog."

Police are still looking for the dog and its owner. They are asking anyone with information to contact them at (909)384-5742.
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