For the past seven years, Oscar was Patricia Darden's "retirement dog" — a loving companion that everyone in her Hunters Ridge apartment complex knew to be a friendly fellow, she said.
She and Oscar walked every day in Hunters Ridge, located near 14 Mile and Orchard Lake in Farmington Hills, usually after watching The Price is Right on TV. It was part of their routine, she said, just like Oscar's own habit of waiting up at night until everyone was safely home.
"He was the man of the house," Darden said.
But on their neighborhood stroll in the early afternoon of May 22, tragedy struck when two large dogs attacked Oscar, killing him. Those dogs, described by Farmington Hills police as a GERMAN SHEPHERD AND A LABRADOR, reportedly were being walked by their owner's housekeeper when they somehow got loose from their leashes, tore across the street and bit Oscar multiple times. Darden said she tried to fight them off, but was unable to do so. The woman who had been walking them just stood, watching the attack, she said.
"I'm out there trying to fight off two dogs, and there was nobody there to help me," said Darden. " I was screaming — and then a lady came with a stick, and the dogs just walked away."
Moments later, after police were called, Darden watched as Oscar took his last breath.
"It's just so hard," she said, tearfully, recalling the trauma and the loss of her special buddy. "He was my dog and I couldn't do anything to save him."
Yet she had, indeed, tried to avoid the confrontation. Darden said Oscar would get nervous around larger dogs, so when she spotted the two with their walker heading toward them right before the attack, she crossed the street.
"Then they started barking, and I told the walker to hold on to them — but they just came at me and Oscar. She just lets the leash go and just stood there," Darden said.
Farmington Hills Police Cmdr. Matt Koehn said it's not clear if the dogs had pulled away from the housekeeper or if she dropped their leashes. When police arrived on the scene, Oscar had died from the injuries, which appeared to be large puncture wounds.
Darden and her daughter, Kim Darden, said this wasn't the first time the two dogs have attacked. Once their neighbors heard about what happened to Oscar, the Dardens said they told them about a couple similar incidents that occurred previously, including another fatal attack that wasn't reported to police. Now, they're concerned about their own safety too — as well as that of their neighbors and their pets.
"I told my mom she can't just let this go," Kim Darden said. "The owner had the obligation to have someone walking those dogs who could handle them."
Koehn said a city ordinance requires owners of dogs deemed dangerous to take them to obedience school, carry additional liability insurance and other measures in order to keep them. Additional information on the case is expected to be available within the next few days. Oakland County Animal Control is also investigating the incident, he said.