Tustin police Wednesday were looking for the owner of two 80-pound pit bulls that attacked an elderly woman on her front porch, killed her poodle and bit her hands savagely enough to require hospital treatment.
Nan Haacker, who says she's in her 70s, was stepping out her front door in the 17000 block of Vinewood Avenue about 6:30 a.m. to walk her small 4-year-old white poodle, Wolfgang, when she found herself staring down the snout of a large, snarling dog.
"The other one ran up," she said, "and I tried to protect Wolfie in my arms. They kept biting my hands until I let go. They pulled him out, took him to the lawn and killed him.
"I screamed and screamed and screamed. Then I staggered next door and they called the paramedics. It was a nightmare."
Haacker was taken to Western Medical Center-Santa Ana where she was treated for lacerations on both hands, bandaged and released.
Tustin police and Orange County animal control officers, meanwhile, tracked the pit bulls several blocks to Prospect Avenue and Bonita Street, where one of the animals was captured and the other escaped after being hit with a Taser.
Authorities escorted students at nearby Columbus Tustin School onto campus.
After a daylong search, authorities cornered the second dog about 5 p.m. in the 14000 block of Holt Avenue.
"We hit it with a tranquilized dart but it started to run away," said Lt. John Strain, a spokesman for the Tustin Police Department, "so we shot it with a bean bag gun and it went into the bushes and passed out."
The female dogs are being held at the county's Animal Care Center in Orange where they will be quarantined for 10 days to determine whether they have rabies, said Howard Sutter, a spokesman for the Orange County Health Care Agency.
"Right now our investigation is centered on trying to identify the owner," Sutter said, adding that neither animal wore identification tags.
If no owner is found within 10 days, he said, the dogs will be destroyed. If an owner is found, Sutter said, a legal process will ensue, after which the animals could either be destroyed or returned to their owner with restrictions.
"Knowing the dogs were involved in an incident like this," he said, "we would be looking very carefully at any conditions of release.
"Because of the nature of this incident, they would not be suitable for adoption."
Haacker, meanwhile, was mourning the loss of a pet she had raised from a puppy.
"He was a dear, friendly dog," she said of Wolfie.
"My whole neighborhood knew Wolfie. He wagged his tail at anything that looked at him; he didn't get a chance to wag it today."