Edward and Courtney Pritchett with their Chihuahua, Abbey. Edward holds a framed photo of their other dog, Tink, who died after being attacked by a pit bull during a leashed walk.
An early walk on a recent summer morning has left a family pet dead and his owners devastated.
Edward Pritchett, 35, and his wife, Courtney, 25, of East Queen Street, were walking with their two small dogs, Tink, a 5 1/2 year-old Yorkie mix, and Abbey, a 1 1/2 year-old long-haired Chihuahua mix on June 30 when a pit bull attacked .
Courtney Pritchett said they had been walking down King Street and followed Eden Street to go back to East Queen Street, and home, because she was getting too warm.
When the couple reached the corner of Oakum and East Queen streets, they stopped to catch their breath. As they did, their dogs, both on leashes, also rested.
As they prepared to resume walking, Edward said, he and Abbey started ahead of Courtney and Tink.
“I heard Courtney scream, and I looked around,” Edward said.
What he saw was a pet owner’s nightmare. A pit bull had grabbed Tink around the waist and was shaking the much smaller dog like a rag doll.
Prior to the alleged attack, Courtney said, a “brown blur” had come rushing at her. Courtney said she tried to pull Tink up into her arms and out of harm’s way, but the pit bull was too quick for her.
“She was running full speed ahead,” Courtney said of the pit bull.
The Pritchetts said they tried to get Tink away from the pit bull while at the same time protecting Abbey. Ultimately, despite their best efforts, the pit bull killed Tink, they said. Abbey, terrified, escaped across the street under a car.
The Pritchetts said they might have seen Abbey killed too, and been seriously injured themselves had it not been for the efforts of a former neighbor, Mark Dawson, who came to their rescue.
Dawson said he could hear Courtney screaming for help from a block away, where he was mowing grass.
Dawson said he ran toward the scene and was able to get hold of the pit bull and lead it away from the couple.
The Pritchetts said they considered Dawson a hero, but Dawson said he looked at what he did as just being neighborly.
“They needed my help and I helped them,” Dawson said. “I was just being a good neighbor.”
A woman in the neighborhood rescued Abbey from underneath the car where she was hiding, returning her to the Pritchetts when the danger was over.
“We didn’t know her, and never found out her name, but we would like to thank her for what she did,” Courtney said.
Upon receiving calls about the incident, several officers and Chief Jay Fortenbery went to the scene to assist the Pritchetts and make sure the dog was taken into custody.
The dog, whose owner was in the hospital in Greenville, and ultimately died from gunshot wounds, had been entrusted to his sister for care. His sister, Kimberly Boston, has been charged with allowing an animal to run at large. The dog had been tied up in her yard but had broken free prior to the attack. Boston is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 14 in connection with the incident.
The dog was held at the Tri-County Animal Shelter in Tyner for 10 days then returned to family members with the provision that they not bring the dog inside the city limits of Edenton again.
Fortenbery said his department followed the law in doing so.
Physical and emotional wounds remain as the Pritchetts struggle to understand how their dog is dead and the dog they watched kill him has been set free.
Edward Pritchett said he tore four ligaments in one knee during the attack, losing his balance and falling to the ground, while trying to rescue his wounded pet.
“I’ve cried every day since it happened,” Edward said, holding a picture of Tink.
Still traumatized from the attack, the Pritchetts are making plans to leave Edenton and move to neighboring Bertie County where Courtney works.
“Staying here (in Edenton) would just bring back too many memories,” Courtney said. “When the attack was happening, we could see our home from where we were. There’s no way we could feel safe here anymore.”
A town of Edenton ordinance prohibits pit bulls from being kept as pets inside town limits. An exception was made for pit bulls already being kept when the ordinance was adopted in 2004.