Betty Dove, an 81-year-old Appanoose County resident returned to her home west of Centerville on Sunday night to find two vicious pitbulls waiting for her.

Dove managed to fight off the pitbulls long enough to escape the situation and retreat into her house.

“I just walked around the side of the garage and here they came, two of them. I said, ‘Get out of here!’ They wouldn't go, so I kicked them,” commented Dove.

Dove said the pitbulls were growling and barking at her while making aggressive movements near her legs. Dove says she managed to get away from the animals thanks in part to her large, heavy purse that she used as a weapon to stun the animals.

“I took my purse and I smacked them both in the head with it. They took off and went under the porch. I thought, oh my god they could have pulled me down and killed me,” Dove said. “I went inside, locked the door and called the sheriff’s department.”

The Appanoose County Sheriff’s Office responded by sending a deputy to Dove’s residence.

The deputy saw the dogs under the porch, but Dove said the deputy decided the situation should be dealt with the next morning in the daylight.

“They came out but didn't do anything. They said it was dark and to wait until the morning,” said Dove.

According to Dove, the official also commented that he did not want to shoot the animals because of the proximity to Dove’s barn and cattle. The barn and cattle are approximately 50 yards from Dove’s house and porch.

Dove had called her grandson, Chris Davolt, to inform him about what had happened. Davolt lives next door to Dove.

"He (deputy) said he was advised that he should watch his line of fire. You’re shooting down at a dog, point blank. Shoot them in the head and move on. I asked him, ‘What am I supposed to do.’ I didn’t want to shoot those dogs. It still bothers me,” said Davolt.

As advised by the sheriff’s deputy, Dove and Davolt left the dogs under the porch on Sunday night, awaiting word from the sheriff’s department on Monday morning – but that call never came.

When she didn’t hear from the sheriff’s department the next morning, Dove stuck her head out the door to check and see if the animals were still under her porch, which they were.

“They were still under the porch barking, you couldn't open the door, they would start in,” Dove said.

While waiting to hear back from the sheriff’s department, Dove watched out her window as the two pitbulls mauled and killed her cat. The pitbulls also killed Davolt’s dog, dragging the dead carcass under Dove’s porch.

Tired of waiting, Dove called the Law Center.

“I called the sheriff's office and the lady told me there wasn't anyone available,” said Dove. “I said, ‘Well you better get someone here.’”

Dove waited for a response from the sheriff’s department, which again, did not come. Fed up, Dove called again.

“I finally called them back again and said, ‘You'd better get someone out here and get someone out here now.’”

The dogs were still waiting under the porch with Dove worried the dogs were prepared to attack the next man, woman or child that came close.

Dove called Davolt to handle the situation after her pleas to the sheriff’s office apparently fell on deaf ears.

"In the morning, they (sheriff’s department) still hadn’t called and the pitbulls killed my wife’s dog and my grandma’s cat,” Davolt said. “She called me so I went to help her out because she couldn’t get out of the house. I called the sheriff’s department that morning and asked them why they haven’t taken care of it and what we should do. Their question to me was, ‘Do you have a gun?’ I said ‘Yeah, I have a gun.’ They told me I needed to shoot the dogs. I said, ‘I don’t know if I can do that. I don’t really want to shoot them. Why don’t you guys shoot them?’ ‘Well, we can if we have to, but if you have a gun, just shoot them,’” he quoted the unnamed official at the Sheriff’s Department.

Davolt reluctantly reached for his shotgun after receiving instructions from the sheriff’s department to kill the dogs himself.

Unable to get the dogs to come out from under the porch, Davolt flushed the dogs out by throwing water on them before shooting and killing both pitbulls.

"There’s a couple things I’m concerned with; one, the sheriff put the burden of killing the dogs on me,” said Davolt. “What kind of retaliation and liability am I going to have if the owner shows up or he finds out? Because stereotypically, those people (pitbull owners) aren’t your typical blue collar, working class people. They’re going to be the people that probably have a criminal record. I shouldn’t generalize like that, but it’s the truth. Then that puts the monkey on my back and the owner is going to ask why I shot his dog. That part of the situation I didn’t like. That’s a liability on me as a citizen where if an official did it, then the owner could deal with city or county government,” remarked Davolt.

Sheriff’s Deputy Dennis Daniels showed up at Dove’s residence just after Davolt had killed the dogs.

“He got there just after I did it and shot one dog a second time,” said Davolt.

Davolt had called several local government officials only to find out no one is responsible for animal control outside of Centerville city limits.

Davolt asked about Centerville animal control officer Tom Beck and left a message for Mark Hoffman at Sharon Bluffs State Park.

“They said Tom Beck was possibly an option. They said that he might come out but he doesn’t have to,” said Davolt. “Mark Hoffman called me back and said that if I needed him to come out then he would, but if I have a gun, just shoot them.”

"We definitely need some kind of protocol,” Davolt said.

Davolt is upset at the way local law enforcement handled the possible life-threatening situation.

"How does an 81-year-old woman contend with that? After she’s made a call for help, and I’ve made a call. What’s she supposed to do? She couldn’t come out of her house because they were right under her doorstep. You can’t just leave an 81-year-old single woman marooned in her house. If you say you’re going to call her back, call her back and follow up on it,” said Davolt. “I’m upset with the Law Center because a couple things could have happened. My grandma could have came out of her house and been mauled.

“What if someone came over or my niece and nephew were outside playing and they’re underneath the porch dead, instead of my dog? It could have been a lot worse.”

“Anything outside of Centerville is a free-for-all. Basically, it’s a vigilante free-for-all. How do two wrongs make a right. What if that’s a decent person that wants their dogs back? Then you have me out here shooting them,” Davolt said.

Davolt now has four dead carcasses to dispose of. The two pit bulls, his wife’s dog and his grandmother’s cat. As of Wednesday afternoon, all four bodies were lying in Betty Dove’s yard (two days after being killed). With the ground too cold and hard to bury the animals, Davolt is unsure how to properly get rid of the remains.

“I don’t know lawfully what’s right. Do I throw them in a ditch and have Bill Milani out here? I know on cattle you have to call the rendering truck. What do I do with a pickup load of dead dogs and cats? That’s an issue too – it’s a mess. It just makes me responsible for a lot of things that I don’t think I should be,” added Davolt.

It was obvious the pitbulls belonged to someone because of their large, spiked collars.

Appanoose County Sheriff Gary Anderson said there is no animal control officer serving people in the county.

"If a dog is in their yard and appears vicious or is harassing them, they have permission to shoot the dog," Anderson said.

"The Centerville Animal Control is just for incidents inside the city limits. If people in the county want to catch a stray dog, they may take it to Sharon Bluffs State Park themselves and it will be kept there for awhile so the owners can claim it."

There is no sheriff's deputy responsible for animal control.

"This has been taken up with the county supervisors before. It has been suggested the mayors of the small communities in the county get together and appoint an animal control person for the county. I have suggested to the supervisors that they put it on their agenda again for a future meeting," Anderson added.

"I certainly am not opposed to making this issue an agenda item for a meeting," said Appanoose County Supervisor Dean Kaster.

"I don't think we need to get involved in an knee-jerk reaction. We need to sit down calmly, discuss it at a meeting and find a solution," said Kaster.

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