KCBD Investigates: Woman mauled by dogs at Lubbock park reunites with woman who came to her aid
LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The deadly dog attack at Lubbock’s Buddy Holly Park has grabbed the attention of city leaders.
Lubbock Mayor Tray Payne said the city’s stray dog problem is a priority for the city council, and the city’s FY 2022-2023 budget reflects that.
“We have added two new positions, animal control officers, and we have also added two new cage trucks,” Payne said.
Payne said the city also implemented stiffer penalties for animal-related offenses.
“We have gone from a $126 fine to $326 in fines, fees, and court costs just for failure to restrain. Failure to vaccinate/rabies has gone from $146 to $226 in court costs, fees, and fines,” Payne said.
The city also increased the fines, fees, and court costs for offenses like leaving an animal unattended in a vehicle and failure to provide adequate care for an animal.
The city also invests in fencing materials so Lubbock Animal Services can help citizens who have issues keeping their animals restrained.
“We have an opportunity for you to have those repairs done so that’s no longer an excuse. Then we can move towards enforcement if that happens again,” Payne said.
The attack at Buddy Holly Park on Sept. 27 has changed Ana San Miguel’s routine.
For six years, San Miguel would spend her weekday mornings at the park, enjoying exercise and fresh air. She said she got to know other walkers, like Ruth Ann Muffley and her dog, Flaca.
San Miguel and Muffley had just greeted each other on the morning of Sept. 27 and were headed their separate ways when San Miguel heard Muffley scream.
“I turned around and I saw the dogs attacking,” San Miguel said.
San Miguel said three large pit bull mixes had knocked Muffley to the ground. She called 911, grabbed a large branch, and ran toward Muffley and the dogs.
“My legs like a ton. I felt like I was never going to get there,” San Miguel said.
“It felt like the longest time that they were just chomping, and I was just taking it,” Muffley said.
When San Miguel got closer, she said two of the stray dogs tried to attack her, while the third continued to attack Muffley.
“Every time I tried getting up, that black dog would knock me down, and start pulling me through the grass. I was just clawing like a scary movie,” Muffley said.
San Miguel said she used the branch to try to scare off the dogs, but they would not let up.
“I just kept swinging. I felt like it was hours, and I didn’t know how long I could keep those dogs at bay. They just kept coming,” San Miguel said.
That’s when Justin Skarda, who works nearby, heard the screams and followed them to the park.
Skarda said San Miguel handed him the branch. Skarda said he kept swinging, but two of the dogs kept lunging at him while the third kept biting Muffley.
“The black dog still had its mouth around her leg. I’m talking full clench, canines all the way down,” Skarda said.
Eventually, Skarda said he fired a gun, and the dogs took off.
“She is beyond lucky to be alive because she fought and protected herself and because the other lady chose to come down here and put her life in danger. If we hadn’t gotten here when we did, Ruth seemed to me that she didn’t have any energy to fight them off and the other lady would have been next,” Skarda said.
As San Miguel and Muffley ran to safety, they noticed a body lying next to a tree nearby.
Lubbock police later identified the body as Jack Looney, who officers said had also been attacked by dogs.
San Miguel said she called 911 before 7:30 a.m. Steven Greene, the Director of Lubbock Animal Services, confirmed they caught all three dogs by 7:30 that night.
“Do you think that you have the staff you need to respond like you should to callers?” we asked Greene.
“One of the things that a lot of the general public doesn’t think about when they say that we aren’t quick enough is that Lubbock keeps annexing, so we have more territory that we physically have to drive to. The population continues to grow in Lubbock,” Greene said.
Greene said the two new positions the city budgeted for should make a difference, but Lubbock Animal Services still has vacant positions.
“It’s a multifaceted problem and we just need to keep poking holes and try to figure out solutions,” Payne said.
Muffley has resumed her walks at Buddy Holly Park but goes later in the day when there are more people around.
San Miguel said she will not walk at the park again until she gets something to better protect herself; however, she did agree to meet us at the park for the interview.
That’s when an unexpected reunion took place.
As San Miguel started walking back to her car, she saw Muffley and Flaca.
The woman said they had not seen each other since the attack, though they now text to stay in touch.
Together, for the first time, the acquaintances who are now friends walked around the park together.
It is a reunion San Miguel said is only possible because God put her and Justin in the right place at the right time.
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