By Karen Morfitt

WESTMINSTER, Colo. (CBS4) – A Westminster couple is pleading for information after they say a pit bull attacked and killed their dog.

dog park Horror At The Dog Park: Owners Want Justice After Fatal Attack

(credit: CBS)

It happened on Dec. 29 at the Westminster Hills Off-Leash Dog Park, located along Simms Street near 108th Avenue.

John Flannagan and his wife Barbie Stephens say a pit bull described as a brindle mix and weighing about 90 pounds attacked his 9-year-old Yorkie named Biki.

biki 2 Horror At The Dog Park: Owners Want Justice After Fatal Attack

Biki (credit: CBS)

“I had to watch it. I had to watch transpire in front of my eyes and I can’t get rid of it. I can’t get rid of that memory,” Flannagan said.

Flannagan says it happened in a split second when he went to grab a waste bag.

“The next thing I know, people are shouting — they are shouting and screaming ‘Let him go, let him go,'” Flannagan said.

Biki was the target.

“I didn’t even know what it was at first because it was so so violent,” he said.

Flannagan says his first thought was to go after the other dog, but woman with the dog’s owner kept him from doing that.

interview Horror At The Dog Park: Owners Want Justice After Fatal Attack

CBS4’s Karen Morfitt interviews John Flannagan and Barbie Stephens. (credit: CBS)

“She goes ‘Look, he’s still moving. You can save him,’” he said.

With hope in his mind, he rushed out of the park but Biki was dead before making it to the animal hospital.

When Flannagan returned to the park, that suspected pit bull, its owners and every witness was gone.

A report was filed with Westminster police, but so far there are no leads.

biki 1 Horror At The Dog Park: Owners Want Justice After Fatal Attack

(credit: CBS)

Despite the lack of information, the couple has made it their mission to inform others and, above all, get justice for Biki.

“What I’m afraid of is that dog will kill again. And what I’m afraid of is it’s going to be a child instead of a dog,” Stephens said.

As part of their “justice for Biki” campaign, the couple plans to hang flyers around the park that include the horrifying photos of Biki after the attack as well as more specific information about what they remember from that day.

pit bull attack 5pkg frame 273 Horror At The Dog Park: Owners Want Justice After Fatal Attack

(credit: CBS)

If you can help with this case, you are asked to call Westminster police.

RELATED: Pit Bull Attacks Dog At Same Off-Leash Park In June 2017

Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.

Comments (14)
  1. So sorry about your sweet little Biki. This should not have happened. Hope owner & dog are found, dog put down & owner cited.
    What a sweet looking little dog.
    We live in a society of really ignorant, head in the sand, denial types. Look at the statistics on these breeds folks. They are deadly.

  2. Mia Johnson says:

    This is terribly tragic. It can take years to recover. In 2017, National Pit Bull Victim Awareness recorded almost 1000 attacks on people and their dogs that were reported in the news. This included 10 news reports of pit bull attacks in Colorado last year, including a 76-year old woman attacked by the family pit bulls, a 9-year boy mauled by the neighbor’s pit bulls, a girl whose ear was severed, and several dogs killed by pit bulls in front of their owners. Pit bull promoters are doing a great disservice to the community by denying their unpredictability and danger. Sending you support for your ordeal.

  3. This is called “Pit and Run”.The pit owner cares more about his mauler than he does about you and your sweet dog.I am so very sorry for your loss.I rarely take my dogs out on a walk,something i used to love.These pit pushers have inundated us with aggressive,anti-social monsters.

  4. this same thing happened to my dog at a dog park. luckily my dog is still alive ($7000 later). The owner of the dog never came forward and I didn’t have time to wait around for them to fess up.

  5. Lets learn some real facts about pitfalls here folks. Blame the owner not the dog, and lets remember dog parks are inherently dangerous places. This is a tragedy that should have never happened, and owners of ALL BREEDS need to be more honest with them selves about whether or not their dog is the right fit for the dog park. Owner education for all could have prevented this tragic event.

    https://bestfriends.org/resources/pit-bull-facts-and-myths

  6. Poor little dog. Pit Bulls and other dangerous breeds should not be allowed at dog parks. Pit bull owners are usually in denial and there is no reasoning with them, despite countless evidence, they will never admit they were at fault. They’ll tell you, it was your fault to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. If the pit bull kills a child or a dog, they’ll say that the child or the small dog provoked their pit bull. It is outrageous.

  7. Honest to god, people just leave me aghast with their disconnect with reality. Pit bull advocates, I’m speaking to you.

  8. Gosh, this would be my worst nightmare as a dog owner. Feel so bad for the little dog and his owners . Does anyone know to help these dog owners? Does they have a gofundme somewhere or email address I can write to?

  9. I feel sorry for the dog that was killed and my heart goes out to the owners. BUT you cannot blame an entire group of dogs for one dog’s behavior. DOGS ARE INDIVIDUALS. And Pit Bulls are not a breed itself, they are a label of mixed breeds, often made up of American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bully, and Staffordshire Bull Terrier. The American Bulldog is also sometimes included.

    Socialization, training, management, and proper care–or lack thereof–can have a strong influence on a dog’s behavior, therefore it is the OWNERS RESPONSIBILITY. I am a lover of all dogs and have a 9 year old “pit bull” who loves everyone- dogs, cats, people and children. In fact her best friend was a 17 year old Yorkie until he passed of old age last year. Discriminating and banning certain breeds like those labeled, “pit bulls” is not the answer here. Our communities deserve comprehensive dog laws that demand responsible dog ownership and hold reckless owners accountable when their poor decisions result in other dogs or people getting hurt NOT banning an entire group of innocent dogs. Do your research on the facts and stop blaming and discriminating against an entire group of dogs for an INDIVIDUAL dog’s actions.

    It is reported on temperament tests conducted in April 2016 by the American Temperament Test Society (https://atts.org/breed-statistics/statistics-page1/) that those labeled “pit bulls” scored higher than the average dog population. American Pit Bull Terrier had a passing rate of 87%, American Straffordshire Terrier at 85%, Straffordshire Bull Terrier at 91% The American Bulldog 87% — compared to only 83% of the average dog population. In fact they scored higher than many breeds including Afghan Hound at 73%, Beagle at 79%, Weimaraner 80%, and the Yorkshire terrier 83%. These temperament tests consist of putting a dog through a series of unexpected situations, some involving strangers. Any signs of unprovoked aggression or panic in these situations result in failure of the test. The achievement of Pit Bulls in this study disproves that they are inherently aggressive to people.

    Pit bulls are therapy dogs, service dogs, search and rescue dogs and, most famously, loving family pets, including pets to many celebrities like Jessica Alba, Katherine Heigl, Linda Blair, Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Biel, Rachel Bilson, Kaley Cuoco, Alicia Silverstone, Jon Stewart, Tom Brady, Jamie Foxx, Jesse James, Kevin Bacon, Rachael Ray, Kyra Sedgwick, Bernadette Peters, Adrian Grenier, Justin Theroux, and CESAR MILLAN just to name just a few.

    The media needs to stop helping to stereotype the breed as vicious and dangerous while failing to offer other views or context, such as whether or not the pit bull owner’s negligence is to blame for an attack.

  10. Aghast, again. How do you explain this to the families of the people literally ripped apart, & I mean body parts ripped off? How do you explain it to the little kid lying in the hospital bed with half his face sewn back on?
    The woman in Virginia, pit bull (whatever mix) not impressed by your statistics, advocate, torn to pieces by her own dogs. She treated them like babies & “”was”” a dog trainer. And, of course, all of the “harmless” pets out there.

  11. If it had been a child instead of a dog that was killed by (insert any ethnicity here) would you all be calling for the banning and or the execution of any and all in said ethnic group…?!?

  12. The larger the animal the more dangerous it is when it attacks. Any large dog breed has the potential to do harm – not just those labeled as “pit bulls”. It depends on the INDIVIDUAL dog, not the breed alone.

    Do your own research and stop only listening to what you hear in the media, who jumps at the opportunity to report on a “pit bull” attack. Look at the facts. The American Veterinary Medical Association has done extensive research on breeds and aggression, which also take into account all the other factors in dog related incidents, including reporting bioas and regional popularity of a particular breed, well they published this piece:

    https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/LiteratureReviews/Pages/The-Role-of-Breed-in-Dog-Bite-Risk-and-Prevention.aspx

    “If you consider only the much smaller number of cases that resulted in very severe injuries or fatalities, pit bull-type dogs are more frequently identified. However this may relate to the popularity of the breed in the victim’s community, reporting biases and the dog’s treatment by its owner (e.g., use as fighting dogs). It is worth noting that fatal dog attacks in some areas of Canada are attributed mainly to sled dogs and Siberian Huskies, presumably due to the regional prevalence of these breeds.”

    and

    “Owners of pit bull-type dogs deal with a strong breed stigma, however CONTROLLED STUDIES HAVE NOT IDENTIFIED THIS BREED GROUP AS DISPROPORTIONATELY DANGEROUS. The pit bull type is particularly ambiguous as a “breed” encompassing a range of pedigree breeds, informal types and appearances that cannot be reliably identified. Visual determination of dog breed is known to not always be reliable. And witnesses may be predisposed to assume that a vicious dog is of this type.”

    “the incidence of pit bull-type dogs’ involvement in severe and fatal attacks may represent high prevalence in neighborhoods that present high risk to the young children who are the most common victim of severe or fatal attacks. And as owners of stigmatized breeds are more likely to have involvement in criminal and/or violent acts—breed correlations may have the owner’s behavior as the underlying causal factor.”

    In conclusion,

    “Maulings by dogs can cause terrible injuries and death—and it is natural for those dealing with the victims to seek to address the immediate causes. However as Duffy et al (2008) wrote of their survey based data: “the substantial within-breed variation…suggests that it is INAPPROPRIATE TO MAKE PREDICTIONS ABOUT A GIVEN DOG’S PROPENSITY FOR AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR BASED SOLEY ON IT’S BREED.” While breed is a factor, the impact of other factors relating to the individual animal (such as training method, sex and neutering status), the target (e.g. owner versus stranger), and the context in which the dog is kept (e.g. urban versus rural) prevent breed from having significant predictive value in its own right. Also the nature of a breed has been shown to vary across time, geographically, and according to breed subtypes such as those raised for conformation showing versus field trials.”

    “GIVEN THAT BREED IS A POOR SOLE PREDICTOR OF AGGRESSIVENESS AND PIT-BULL TYPE DOGS ARE NOT IMPLICATED IN CONTROLLED STUDIES IT IS DIFFICULT TO SUPPORT THE TARGETING OF THIS BREED AS A BASIS FOR DOG BITE PREVENTION. IF BREEDS ARE TO BE TARGETED A CLUSTER OF LARGE BREEDS WOULD BE IMPLICATED INCLUDING THE GERMAN SHEPHERD AND SHEPHERD CROSSES AND OTHER BREEDS THAT VARY BY LOCATION.”

    Lets also quote the National Animal Control Association Guideline Statement, “DANGEROUS AND/OR VICIOUS ANIMALS SHOULD BE LABELED AS SUCH, AS A RESULT OF THEIR ACTIONS OR BEHAVIOR AND NOT BECAUSE OF THEIR BREED.”

    I understand why you might have a bias against pit bulls due to the popularity of media reporting on them, but if you do your homework you will see the facts are the facts. DOGS ARE INDIVIDUALS AND BEHAVE AS SUCH.

  13. Many peaceful, dog loving people have died, many sweet harmless pets have been killed. People are honestly fed up with the lying rhetoric of pit bull owners & advocates.
    Your attempt at the sweet soothing voice of reason & stats are meaningless to me. YOU, look at the statistics & stop with the rhetoric & baloney.
    News flash for ya. We love our pets too! They don’t have to be stabbed to death to let go of a childs face in it’s jaws.

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