People usually feel safe in their own backyards. A local family had that secure feeling compromised last week.
On Sunday, Sept. 25, Tonnya Juhnke was inside her home when she heard her daughter yell, "The PIT BULLS are out." The pit bulls, who were owned by the neighbors across the street, had been a nuisance for some time, Juhnke said. "Everybody had complained about the dogs many times," she said. "They never stopped barking and always fought with each other very aggressively."
According to Juhnke, this was most likely due to them being left on the neighbor's enclosed porch with no food or water and having little human interaction. They would even sometimes escape.
"My children have had to get rides from neighbors kids' homes because of the dogs being out."
On this morning the dogs' owners had been gone for 3 days. When Juhnke went outside, she discovered the two dogs in her backyard. Her dachshund, Gunner, was also outside on a chain.
"The pit bulls were on a mission. They wanted Gunner."
She yelled at the dogs to leave and they seemed to back off. But when she reached for her dog, they attacked her.
"One was on my arm and the other attacked my legs. It felt like they were trying to take me down."
She kicked at the dog biting her legs, and punched the other one, which was latched to her arm, in the nose.
"I thought my kids were gonna watch me die," she recalled.
She eventually got the dogs to release her and made it to safety. Once inside her home she focused on bandaging her wounds. While keeping her kids from going outside to get Gunner.
Sadly the dachshund did not survive.
"I had to save my own children from getting hurt like I did, so I just had to shut the door."
While waiting for the police and ambulance to arrive, she used her car to block the dogs from leaving the yard. When officers arrived on the scene, Yankton County Sheriff Jim Vlahakis said the 2 pit bulls charged towards him. The responding deputy shot the dogs killing them both.
Juhnke was transported to a hospital to be treated for her injuries. She needed 23 stitches for a deep gash on her arm.
The incident has been forwarded to the state's attorney's office to determine if any charges against the owner of the attacking dogs may be needed.
Juhnke said, "I'm grateful it didn't happen on a day I wasn't home," I wish my kids didn't have to experience that. It was a terrifying scene."