Saturday, July 19, 2014

Pit Bull Victim Penny Loved Everyone and Everything

February 9, 2012 - Solvang, CA
Twenty-one years ago, a 14-pound, 2-year-old bundle of love entered my life in the form of a dog named, Penny. I did not know it then, but this little black and white being with the exaggerated underbite and soulful eyes would change my life forever.
RIP Pretty Penny

Pretty Penny

I was running an all-volunteer humane society when a woman contacted me about a little dog with two broken bones in her front leg. I arranged to bring the dog home with me for a lengthy rehabilitation before finding her a permanent home. However, after one month, it became clear that I could not part with this precious dog. I recall looking at her and reassuring her that her days of suffering were over.

Penny loved everyone and everything – even the largest of dogs. Children that were afraid of dogs welcomed Penny onto their laps where they received numerous kisses. On our daily walks in Solvang, she enchanted several shop owners, who gave her cookies on every visit. At 22, she lost her sight. However, she still made her way to every cookie stop and knew exactly where they were stored. Penny never allowed her disability to stop her and lived life to the fullest. However, in December 2010 our life as we had known it was changed forever: My healthy, athletic Penny, who practically had me jogging from cookie stop to cookie stop, was attacked by 3 pit bulls while walking on leash in a Solvang park. A Lompoc group, Shadow’s Fund, was there to adopt out pit bulls. Penny was rushed to a vet, where she received 75 stitches and it was found that her jaw was broken. I was taken to a hospital to have my amputated finger part reattached, plus surgery on both hands. Christmas Eve, I had a mini-stroke and later Penny had one, too. Two of the five pit bulls that Shadow’s Fund had for adoption had no proof of rabies vaccinations. Whether I bitten by either of those two, I don’t know.

In less than a year in Solvang, there have been six pit bull attacks that I know of and there could well be more. Yet this city continues to allow this same pit bull group to come here monthly to adopt out their dogs. Does a child need to die before this stops?

The year since the pit bull attack has been one of the most stressful in my 76 years. At 22, Penny survived the attack and the surgery. However, her back legs were never normal again – and of course, one never knows if their pain level is a 1 or a 10.

We resumed our cookie round walks as it gave her such joy to socialize. Much of the time she managed to walk and when she couldn’t, I carried her. This past Christmas day, I saw her walking upstairs dragging her back legs behind her. I knew then her quality of life was over.

My precious Penny, my constant companion for 21 years, is now buried in the garden where she once chased. She gave such happiness to my life and to others. I can’t help but wonder how different Penny’s last year of life would have been if she had not had to suffer from such a vicious attack.

Hazel Mortensen

P.S. For the last year, “Shadow’s Fund” has been on TV, radio and in the print media, asking for donations to purchase the 100-acre ranch they presently rent.

Santa Ynez Valley Journal
Accessed: 2014-07-19. (Archived by WebCite® at