At 7:00 in the morning on November 6, on a quiet block of houses in Lemon Grove, three pit bulls escaped from their yard. They attacked a seven-year-old, tan "cha-weenie" mix named T-Bone, who was sitting on his owner’s front porch. T-Bone, who weighs 15 pounds, didn't stand a chance.
His owner Nancy Linhardt and three neighbors tried to save T-Bone by screaming, kicking, and pummeling the pit bulls as six additional neighbors witnessed the horrifying scene. Police were called, but by the time a man from across the street came running to control the dogs, T-Bone was torn apart.
For the past six years, T-Bone and Linhardt, 56, went everywhere together; it was a common sight for people to see them taking walks to the store or just sitting outside enjoying the sun.
Linhardt and her neighbor Cherise raced unconscious, bloody T-Bone to Pet Emergency & Specialty Center in La Mesa. His chest was torn open and his right arm was broken in five places. Bone stuck out from his leg in three spots. All tendons, muscles, and ligaments were severed just above his paw, which dangled.
Emergency vets informed Nancy that T-Bone needed immediate surgery, estimating the cost at $6660. The owner of the pit bulls, a woman in the Navy who lives across the street, showed up. This was reputedly the third attack by her dogs in the preceding two weeks. She accepted responsibility, said she’d “pay for everything" but wanted to move T-Bone to a different hospital, a cheaper one.
Frantic, Linhardt took T-Bone to Animal Medical Center in El Cajon. The cost to operate on T-Bone was estimated at $4122.80. They wouldn’t treat T-Bone until someone made a substantial down payment, so the Navy woman said she was going to her bank. Linhardt and Cherise drove back home to watch as the neighbor moved her most ferocious pit bull off her property...ostensibly so Animal Control couldn’t take him away.
Confronted, she told Linhardt, "Can't you understand...how much I love him? I can't lose him." The pit bull owner promised to pay all expenses, so T-Bone and Linhardt waited three days for her to honor her word and bring money for the operation. She hasn’t been heard from since.
Finally, the doctor couldn’t wait any longer. They had to operate or T-Bone would soon die. Linhardt came up with $700 and begged the vet to save his life. So, on November 9, T-Bone got his surgery. But those three days took their toll; T-Bone was still weak and sickly. He was on four different meds, and aggressive infections kept the vet busy trying different antibiotics (an expensive process) that worked.
With T-Bone's medical costs ballooning and the pit bull owner out of contact, Animal Medical Center gave Linhardt a choice: she could keep T-Bone and let him die (because she couldn’t afford further medical care) or relinquish her ownership of the dog to the hospital and they would save him and find him a new owner. T-Bone would live, but she would never see him again.
Linhardt signed the papers gave up T-Bone. It was November 12. Today she knows T-Bone lives but has no idea where. Linhardt filed a vicious-dog-attack report at the Chula Vista Animal Control. The pit bull owner still lives across the street with her dogs, her favorite one alive and well hidden.
T-Bone? The hospital said they saved his arm with a metal rod and nine pins. We miss you, Boner! You are loved by so many! Merry Christmas, wherever you are.