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Abby, a 14-year-old Yorkie terrier, was killed by a dog that was roaming its neighborhood free. Abby's owner reminds pet owners to be responsible for their pets and make sure they are restrained. Courtesy of Sandra Garofolo

Dear JOAN: I'm writing with a plea to all dog owners who have vicious dogs: Please sufficiently contain your dogs and learn how to control them.

On Sept. 9, I leashed my two Yorkies -- Abby, a 13-year-old, 7-pound female, and Prize, a 7-year-old, 8-pound male -- for a short walk around my front yard. When I got to the end of my sidewalk, I saw a large unleashed dog that I did not recognize roaming free.

I immediately picked up my Yorkies and started back to my front door. The large dog ran behind me, knocked me down and bit Prize. He had Prize in his mouth and started to run away, but I held onto the leash and got Prize out of the dog's mouth.

The dog charged me again and bit Abby. I got Abby free and she ran for my front door, but the dog caught her and shook her again and again. After five attacks and all my screams, my neighbor caught the dog and released Abby, but it was too late -- her wounds were fatal.

Prize is recovering with deep wounds on his back and is continuing to undergo treatments. Hopefully he will recover.

I pray no one ever sees an attack like I saw. I cannot stop the reruns. Even with counseling and medication, I have nightmares and so much sadness. I'm also now very fearful of large dogs. I cannot sleep and I have no appetite.


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I bought Abby, a registered Yorkshire terrier, to be a companion to me 14 years ago. My son had just graduated from UC Berkeley and had been accepted to law school at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. To compensate for missing my son, we got Abby.

She weighed just a half pound at 8 weeks old. She was completely black when she was born and became silver with a black undercoat as she aged. A descendant of show dogs, Abby was a beautiful sweet companion for our family including our small grandchildren who still ask for her.

The attack dog was a neighbor's dog that, according to other neighbors on the court, frequently got out through a dilapidated fence. My husband and I had no idea a vicious dog was out so frequently.

People who have inadequate fencing and cannot control their dogs should not be dog owners.

I had two lovely healthy companions whom I expected to have for many years to come -- healthy Yorkies can live 20 years. Now all I have is counseling, medication, nightmares, the loss of my dear Abby and a severely wounded Yorkie all because a neighbor did not adequately contain her dog.

Sandra G.

Walnut Creek

DEAR SANDRA: I am so sorry about your sweet dog, Abby, and the horror that you all went through. I am glad for the chance to remind people how important it is to keep pets under control, whether that means on a leash or in yards.

I've known a lot of people who believe their dogs would never injure or kill another living creature, until they do. Dogs have been domesticated, but they still are animals and sometimes those hunting and killing instincts are triggered even in dogs that aren't aggressive.

That's why it's so important that if you allow your dog to be outdoors unsupervised and unrestrained, you must ensure that your yard can retain the animal.

It is bad enough that another dog died, but what if it had been a child? Or an adult, for that matter? As the dog's owner, could you live with that?

If you haven't done it lately, check your enclosures and repair any weak spots. And if you think your dog is gentle and would never harm anyone, then remember Abby and the price she paid for an owner's lack of awareness.

Contact Joan Morris at jmorris@bayareanewsgroup.com; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.