NOV. 6, 2014 UPDATE: The Coweta County grand jury decided this week that no animal cruelty charges will be filed against Craig Emory Hayes, and the case is closed.
Hoping she would find a forever home there, volunteers from the Newnan-Coweta Humane Society (NCHS) brought a Pit Bull named Clara to a PetSmart adoption event in Georgia Sunday.
Instead, the volunteers had to make the heartbreaking decision to have Clara euthanized after she was stabbed multiple times by an angered customer in the store.
Clara had broken free from her collar and bitten the ear of Craig Emory Hayes’ Yorkshire Terrier after the little dog growled at her.
Screaming “F–king Pit Bulls” over and over, Hayes pulled out a pocket knife and began plunging it into Clara’s neck, even after she released the Yorkie’s ear.
Horrified PetSmart customers who witnessed the attack described what they saw to the Newnan Times-Herald.
Erin Burr said Hayes had earlier told Clara’s handler, “If you bring that f–king Pit Bull near me, I’m going to stab it.”
Another customer, Kathy Stottlar, said Clara had bolted toward the Yorkie. “It was terrifying,” she said. “[Hayes] yelled, ‘Get the dog off or I will stab him.’ He said it several times.”
Teresa Reeves and her fiance, Mike Wohler, had come to the PetSmart event hoping to adopt a Pit Bull.
Reeves said Clara wasn’t viciously attacking the Yorkie, but nipping some loose skin on its neck. “Clara wasn’t clamped down on the dog,” she told the Times-Herald. Neither dog was moving.
“It could have easily been broken up,” Reeves said. Instead, Hayes started pushing and kicking Clara, “making things worse. The guy was just screaming, ‘F–king Pit Bull, why are you even allowed to have these dogs?’’’
When he began to stab Clara, Reeves tried to protect the dog by wrapping her arms around her.
Wohler was able to put his hands in Clara’s mouth, and a PetSmart employee used citronella spray and an air horn to make her release the Yorkie’s ear.
Still, Hayes continued his furious attack — even as his young son begged him to stop.
“He wasn’t stabbing like he was trying to save his dog. He was stabbing trying to kill this dog,” Reeves said.
With blood flowing from her wounds, Clara lay on the floor of PetSmart, wagging her tail as shocked customers petted her. She and the Yorkie were taken to the pet hospital inside the store.
Sandy Hiser, president of the NCHS, told the Times-Herald that Clara’s wounds were so severe “that if she did pull through, it would have impacted her quality of life.”
Clara had spent half of her life in a Peachtree City, Ga., boarding kennel, according to the Clicks for Clara Facebook page, which was created in January 2013 in an effort to help find her a forever home.
Hiser said the decision to euthanize her was heart-rending. “And the people who made it were the people that loved her and knew her the best.”
The Yorkie whose ear she bit was transferred to an emergency animal hospital, treated for a blood clot and released the next morning.
According to Hiser, a police officer who interviewed Hayes said he had the right to defend his dog. But was it necessary to stab Clara multiple times?
“He straight murdered this dog in front of 30, 40 people,” Wohler told the Times-Herald. “He didn’t like Pit Bulls. This just gave him the excuse he needed.”
Authorities in Coweta County are taking over the case, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Here’s hoping Hayes is charged with animal cruelty – and that he signs up ASAP for some anger-management sessions. Since it sounds like he has never actually been around a Pit Bull, perhaps volunteering with a shelter or rescue would quickly change his hateful view of the breed.
On New Year’s Eve last year, the following status was posted on the Clicks for Clara Facebook page:
“Are we going to make 2014 the year of my home…You bet we are!!! There is absolutely no reason to not adopt me…What are you waiting for???? I’m everything you could want in a companion.”
Rest in peace, Clara. If you were a Golden Retriever or Labrador, you’d probably still be alive to make this the year of your home.
Photos via the Clicks for Clara Facebook page