Pit bull attacks motel employee and her support dog

ST. GEORGE — A woman suffered bite wounds and her small support dog was seriously injured after a pit bull entered the woman’s workplace Sunday afternoon and attacked them unprovoked.

Police respond after a pit bull attacked an employee and her dog at a Motel 6 in St. George, Utah, Oct. 1, 2017 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

“It was the worst thing that happened to me in my entire life,” said Catherine Dickerson, the woman attacked by the dog.

The incident occurred around noon at the Motel 6 on 1000 East in St. George when Dickerson was mopping the motel lobby with her gray poodle, a support dog named Jack.

She went outside to bring the mop bucket inside when the attack occurred, she said.

“I was probably four steps in when just out of nowhere this white dog just came.”

Dickerson said the dog, described by police as a 1-year-old pit bull, immediately began biting her arm when Jack jumped up to help her.

“The dog (pit bull) just turned – like completely forgot that I was even there – grabbed my dog and was just shaking him,” Dickerson said.

Bite marks on Catherine Dickerson’s arms following a dog attack at a Motel 6 in St. George, Utah, Oct. 1, 2017 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

Outside, two women witnessing the attack called for help as Jack let out high pitched yelps of pain as the pit bull had its mouth latched around the smaller dog.

Dickerson tried to pry the pit bull away, she said.

“As soon as my dog started dragging himself away, the dog just got him away from me and grabbed him again,” she said. “He wouldn’t let go of my dog – he just would not let go of him.”

She said Jack started making choking noises, and she thought she was watching her dog die.

The pit bull’s owner, a guest at the motel, finally arrived and separated the animals, St. George Police Officer Jace Hutchings said.

As the owner carried the pit bull away, he accidentally dropped it, Hutchings said, and it ran back into the room and attacked the poodle again before the owner was able to intervene again and secure the animal in his room.

Dickerson suffered several bite wounds on both of her arms and was hurt while trying to wrestle the pit bull away.

A small dog named Jack rests after being attacked by a pit bull at a Motel 6 in St. George, Utah, Oct. 1, 2017 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

Jack had large bite marks on his rear end, torso and ear and was rushed to an emergency veterinarian where he was administered pain pills and antibiotics. Dickerson said the dog now yelps in pain anytime its hips are moved.

While she said the dog’s bones likely are not broken, the veterinarian told her if he doesn’t appear to get better in the next few days, she would need to come up with $700 for an X-ray.

Police said the pit bull reportedly escaped from its leash as its owner was taking it for a walk.

Witnesses said they saw the dog urinate on a bush outside the motel then appear to pick up a scent, at which point it darted into the building after Dickerson and her dog.

“My dog did not deserve that, and I didn’t deserve it either,” Dickerson said.

She said she is relieved Jack survived and is grateful that he tried to help her.

“My dog is amazing,” she said. “He would die for me; there’s no doubt in my mind. He’s my best friend.”

Even though the pit bull reportedly got away from its leash, Dickerson said the moment served as a wake-up call for the importance of keeping dogs leashed in general.

“Now I know forever, for the rest of my life, when I see someone without a dog leash, I’ll tell them to put a leash on.”

Hutchings said the pit bull’s owner likely faces several citations, including animal at large, animal attack and possibly vicious animal.

“Animal control will follow up with the owner of the pit bull tomorrow and most likely take the pit bull and quarantine it for whatever the period of quarantine is,” Hutchings said.

Dickerson is also considering taking legal action against the pit bull’s owner.

“I absolutely want to press charges,” she said. “What if that was a little child? I have done nothing to that dog, I’ve never seen that dog in my life for him to attack me like that. He would have killed a child.”

Management at the Motel 6 said the chain is known for being pet-friendly, but any animal brought into the motel should also be friendly and well-trained.

This report is based on information provided by law enforcement and witnesses and may not contain the full scope of findings.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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  • DRT October 1, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    ““Animal control will follow up with the owner of the pit bull tomorrow and most likely take the pit bull and quarantine it for whatever the period of quarantine is,” Hutchings said.”
    I’m betting the owner of the pit bull will be in the wind long before animal control even gets out of bed. So often, when people own a dog that is vicious it is because they want a guard dog for their drug trafficking.
    There is a big misconception about pit bulls being “naturally vicious.” That is pure old wive’s tales. They can be. So can golden retrievers, (or any other dog breed,) if that is how they are trained, or they have been abused.

    • comments October 1, 2017 at 9:25 pm

      Oh boy, another “pitbulls are so sweet” idiot. Because we hear so often of golden retrievers attacking people and killing other dogs, right? a pitbull likes to attack and kill things. they can’t help it. it’s just part of their breeding. and you’re an idiot.

      • 417-PC October 1, 2017 at 9:46 pm


      • .... October 2, 2017 at 5:02 am

        You’re an idiot

        • Badshitzoo November 30, 2017 at 9:08 am

          LEO’s should shoot Pitbull’s as soon as they arrive on scene; and take anyone involved with the animal into custody immediately for a lengthy background check. Everyone else should open carry at least a mid-caliber handgun while walking their domestic dog(s) anywhere this animal can be encountered.

      • Rob83 October 2, 2017 at 8:37 am

        Exactly Comments, well said. Pit bulls are demons, nothing good about them, they need to be banned period. I’m sick of hearing how sweet they are too, no they are most certainly not! People that have them around kids are complete morons!

  • hoaganp October 1, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    Nice piece of reporting Joseph on a very frightening situation. Thankfully the woman and her dog survived the pit bull’s attack. Some are not so fortunate.

  • Valerie October 1, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    So sorry for these innocent victims. I am happy to see that this woman is going to pursue charges. I wish she would put a little less emphasis on leashing dogs, as this Pit Bull was leashed and it did not stop it from attacking her or her dog. She needs to take a good hard look at yet another Pit Bull attacking a Poodle and push for laws regarding the breed doing the deed.

  • Real Life October 1, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    The owner of the pit bull made that dog mean, and should have to pay serious consequences.

    • .... October 2, 2017 at 5:04 am

      Whaaaaaaaaaa whaaaaaaaaaaa whaaaaaaaaa

      • Real Life October 2, 2017 at 12:12 pm

        You are still on the loose?

  • DB October 1, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    No one who truly cares about the welfare of all dogs would want more dogs to be born with the man-made birth defect to mature to suddenly become deadly game insane psychopath, road rage, serial killer dogs.

    When fighting dogs msture and suddenly develop the man made drive to attack and maul UNPROVOKED, dog fighters call it “starting” or “turning on”.

    This bully dog became a “good” game insane fighter dog, he “started”.

    Look to the true experts of deadly UNPROVOKED PROLONGED kill or die trying style dog aggression, the dog fighters of NA and the UK. You’ll notice that while all dogs can bite, those who must have dogs that will leave home to hunt for and kill their own family, all choose pits/bully dogs exclusively.

    Yes other dogs can bite but they don’t kill as well as pits /bully dogs do. They aren’t the psychopaths that “good” game insane fighting dogs are.

  • DB October 1, 2017 at 9:01 pm

    We need new laws to make dog owners/handlers care enough to prevent that first attack.

    Simply requiring euthanasia fir the dog doesn’t prevent the humans from getting another dog and repeating their lack of judgment, and their failure to provide training and management that resulted in the first attack.

    Prisons are too expensive and too overcrowded already.

    Fines alone aren’t working as the wealthy simply pay them and the poor simply don’t.

    It’s illegal to rig a hand grenade to the gate or plant landmines in the lawn.

    Dogs that severely injure or kill can be worse than hand grenades and landmines as they can move about under their own power.

    Dog fighting is a felony.

    Dogs that leave home to maim and kill neighbors or passersby pets/people, invade yards, cars or buildings for the sole purpose of killing, are worse that organized dog fighting, where at least the humans all choose to attend and dogs are matched by weight.

    We need new laws to make dog owners/handlers care enough to prevent that first attack.

    Charge all owners, handlers of dogs that severely injure or kill dogs, humans, or cats away from the dog’s home, with FELONY animal NEGLECT and CRUELTY.

    Immediately remove all dogs from their control and property. When multiple dogs are involved, didn’t expect or trust them to be honest about which dog caused the injury.

    Found guilty, ban them all from any dog contact or ownership for LIFE.
    We need severe penalties to make dog owners CARE.

    Signs must be posted “No Dogs Permitted.”

    Any dogs found in their possession will be immediately confiscated.

    Publicized and enforced, this breed neutral law will begin to cause dog owners to care enough to prevent attacks, as many currently do not care at all.

    Some dog owners seem fine with putting others at risk of dismemberment and death.

    We need to make them therefore put their LIFETIME dog privileges at risk too.

    • DB October 2, 2017 at 2:58 pm

      Note to editors (and anyone else who cares): It now appears that there are two posters with the ‘DB’ username. Signed, The Original DB (I think!)

  • Mike October 1, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    It’s not the breed it’s the owner!

    • comments October 1, 2017 at 9:36 pm

      another “pitbulls are so sweet” idiot?

      • 417-PC October 1, 2017 at 9:48 pm


      • Mike October 1, 2017 at 10:09 pm

        My what ignorance! You should study more, that is if you can read!

      • .... October 2, 2017 at 5:05 am

        You’re an idiot

        • Rob83 October 2, 2017 at 8:43 am

          LOL, yes, he is an idiot. Pit bulls are evil, period, they need to be banned, why take a chance?

          • Mike October 2, 2017 at 3:09 pm


  • comments October 1, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    If you see a pit or other dog attacking a person or another dog the best thing you can do is try and stab it with a knife or something sharp. A big ol’ tough dog will turn into a scared little pussy cat as soon as it gets one good stab wound (unless it’s rabid). If you can’t stab it try and get a shovel or stick and beat the thing with it. If no weapon is available kick it in the belly and face and try to punch it’s nose. I hate vicious dogs with a passion. Best thing for them is a quick death. The owners of such dogs also need a good beat down. Keep ur frickin’ junkyard dogs where they belong, idiots.

    • .... October 2, 2017 at 5:06 am

      You’re an idiot

    • Badshitzoo October 2, 2017 at 1:58 pm

      I beat a pitbull to death with a heavy wooden boat oar once, because it had some young girls yellow lab puppy by the throat and wouldn’t let go. I hit it the first 3x at less than half power swings just trying to stop it. That had absolutely zero effect on the damn thing. After that I just did what I had to do to save the puppy. No more body hits. I knew that puppy was going to be dead in another minute or two. So I took a page out of the pitbull’s playbook and hit it on its neck 4-5 times with full power swings that broke its neck. And guess what had to be pried out of its mouth even with a broken neck! Three more full power stabs in the mouth that knocked out 8 or 10 of its teeth and broke its lower jaw; and the girls puppy was freed, but drenched in its own blood from bad lacerations to its neck. What kind of domestic dog acts like that? It show zero fear of humans, mainly myself, and was impervious to pain right to its end. I wished I had had a razor sharp Samurai sword to just cut its head off. I’ll bet that thing would have taken a few 9mm rounds instride!

  • utahdiablo October 1, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    That Motel 6 is a “Extended Stay” with a special clientele as it is…glad the lady and dog are ok, but yep, Zero reason for this to happen and Stop making excuses Dog owners, as it won’t fly with me anyway….sue this ahole lady, and be sure to have that Pit Bull put down….you may want to conceal and carry from now on working at that place…..but yes too many people disregarding southern Utah leash laws…but this could have been much worse if a child was near and attacked

  • hoaganp October 1, 2017 at 11:38 pm

    I question whether the dog was ever even on a leash that day. If he broke way from his owner it seems the pit bull would have still have had the leash attached to his collar. I don’t believe all, or even a majority of pit bulls are aggressive, but the ones that are are certainly dangerous and the owners need to be held accountable. Recently while walking two of our service dogs, and yes they were leashed, a pit bull attacked our dog that my wife was holding as she sat in her motorized wheelchair. It was a few moments of shear terror as we fought to drive the pit away from us. Fortunately, we were successful in escaping, however, my wife suffered some bruising as she was pulled out of her chair. Our dog was covered in the pit bulls saliva and was traumatized for several days. Animal control handled the situation in a satisfactory manner. I would sure like to see more things put into place to deter people from keeping aggressive dogs that may be a danger to other people or animals. Maybe DB has some good suggestions to consider as a starting place.

  • Chris October 2, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    the only good pit bull is a dead pit bull, and the only good pit bull owner is a dead one. we need to observe an annual “kill a pit bull” day. if an owner gets killed in the process, so much the better.

  • Who October 2, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    People that own piy bulls have something to prove that they can’t prove themselves.
    Walking around with a pit bull makes you a big man. Without them nobody notices the little man.

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