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Valley man shoots dog during attack in Gilbert, has message for dog owners

Posted at 10:31 PM, Feb 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-22 00:40:12-05

"I thought he was going to kill my dog cause my dog just had surgery, and it was crying, yelling upside down on its back as the dog was going to bite down," Larry Divito said. 

Gilbert resident Larry Divito says the moment only lasted a minute, but it's something he's replayed in his head over and over. 

"I could hardly sleep last night because of this, it's still on my mind," Divito said. 

On Monday, Divito was taking his two Shih Tzu's Loui and Vinny for their evening walk when the unthinkable happened. 

"As I was crossing the street here, two dogs come from over near that van, come running at us," Divito said. 

He shouted at the large German Shepherds, stopping one in its tracks. 

But the other he says had its sights set on Loui, immediately attacking the small pup and then him. 

"I tried everything, I kept screaming and screaming, kicking, desperately looking around for the owner," Divito said. "I had a gun in my back pocket; I pulled it out," Divito said. 

Divito says it was a split second decision that didn't go down without serious thought. 

"I thought about shooting up in the air, but I didn't want to do that, and I'm on cement, so I shot the dog," Divito said. 

The bullet went into the dog's leg, giving Divito enough time to get his to safety. 

Divito insists it was the only choice he had.

Neighbors we spoke with say they'd do the same. 

"I would put the safety of my dog ahead of another dog or another person," said one neighbor. 

Police say the dog's owner admitted the dogs are known to escape their yard and have a history of being aggressive towards other animals.  

Divito hopes the dog will survive but is urging all dog owners to be more responsible. 

"You got to be vigilant looking at your gates, and your doggy doors, be vigilant especially with a dog that big that can hurt people," Divito said. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, dog bites occur every 75 seconds in the United States, landing more than a thousand people in the ER each day to treat injuries. 

The owner of the German Shepherd is not facing charges tonight.