Dog owner sought after San Bernardino woman mauled
Victim says fire personnel did not respond to call for help
Penny Holt, 37, describes her injuries after being mauled by a German Shepherd in June.
SAN BERNARDINO After being mauled by what she described as a trained German shepherd, Penny Holt’s fear of dogs became heightened and her anger for a lack of public safety response intensified.
“They would have only cared if I had died,” she said. “The fire department never arrived to help me.”Officials for the San Bernardino City Fire Department, which was disbanded days following the attack, were unavailable for comment.
On June 28, Holt was out for a late evening walk by Arrowhead Country Club on Valencia Avenue when she crossed paths with another woman on a bicycle, with a dog by her side. Witnesses said the bicyclist’s dog, a large black and tan German shepherd, was not on a leash.
“All of the sudden, I saw the dog attack the young woman who was exercising,” witness Randy Souza said in a statement. “The woman on the bike was using her bike to try to separate them.”
The young woman was bleeding badly, crying and had three lacerations to her right arm, Souza added.
Souza called 911, but no public safety personnel immediately showed up.
Instead, an American Medical Response ambulance was dispatched, and it arrived 30 minutes after the call was made. Moments after the attack, the bicyclist took her dog and fled the area.
“If it weren’t for Mr. Souza and his son I may have bled to death,” Holt said. “The woman said it wasn’t her dog, but she was obviously giving the animal hand commands, and she fled the area with it.”
Souza, a retired Los Angeles city firefighter, said this is the worst dog bite he’d ever seen.
“In my 34 years in the fire service and as an EMT, this was one of the worst injuries I had ever seen of a person who survived a dog mauling,” he said. “As I was running to the house to get the towels, my son had called 911 and had given a report of what had happened.”
Holt, who’s already fearful of larger animals, said her fear has grown since the attack.
She said she was told by Animal Control officials that they are undermanned and underfunded to try to find the woman and her dog.
“This attack was completely unprovoked,” she said. “I’m concerned not just for myself but if that dog attacks a small child it may have a completely different outcome.”
Police eventually investigated, but they turned over the case to animal control.
Several attempts to speak with the head of the San Bernardino City Animal Control went unanswered.
According to the city of San Bernardino’s website, state law requires that all dogs and cats be quarantined for bites that break the skin of a person and requires all dogs to be on a leash when in public.
Police are asking for the public’s help in finding the woman and her dog.
“Her injuries are very disturbing, and we need someone to come forward and identify the dog owner,” police Lt. Rich Lawhead said.
The woman is described as Latina, around 35 years old, about 5 feet 3 inches inches tall, 180 pounds with medium to longer length brown hair. Witnesses said she was wearing pants with a light blue top and was riding a light blue beach cruiser type bicycle.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 909-384-5742.