Two pit bulls are being held at the dog pound after attacking and killing another dog on New Year’s Day in Peachland.

The animals were running loose on Ponderosa Drive when they encountered Jeff Clarke as he was out walking his dog, Charley.

In a vicious attack lasting for several minutes, the pit bulls repeatedly bit Charley while Clarke and a neighbour frantically tried to separate the dogs.

“It was a horrible, brutal thing,” Clarke said Sunday. “The pit bulls were relentless. We were hitting and kicking them, but they weren’t letting go of Charley no matter what.”

Clarke only managed to end the attack, which happened in the middle of the road at 8:45 a.m., by laying on top of Charley, covering him from the pit bulls’ view.

Police, summoned by a passing motorist, sped Clarke and his dog to the Rose Valley animal hospital in West Kelowna.

“I was in the back seat holding Charley,” Clarke said. “I was telling him, ‘Hey, little buddy, all these lights and noise, it’s your very own parade. . . You’re going to be OK.’”

But one of the bites had punctured Charley’s lung, and a vet said there was no guarantee the dog, a 12-year-old Lhasa Apso-Wheaten Terrier cross would survive a long surgery or have a high quality of life afterward. So Clarke, 66, and his wife made the difficult decision to euthanize Charley.

For the Clarkes, it was a shocking and deeply upsetting experience. New Year’s Day was the first day of Clarke’s retirement, after a long career in the plumbing business.

He suffered a broken hand, along with several cuts and abrasions, trying to get the pit bulls off his dog.

“I haven’t slept much since this happened,” he said. “I feel bad I wasn’t able to save Charley.”

Police discovered the pit bulls are owned by a person who was visiting Peachland for a New Year’s Eve party. The pit bulls somehow got out of the house on New Year’s Day morning.

The owner voluntarily surrendered the pit bulls to dog control officers. The animals will be held in the pound for a minimum 21 days, during which time the owner will have to decide whether to allow the animals to be euthanized or try to regain them through legal action.

Clarke has little doubt what should happen.

“I think they should be put down,” he said. “And I never want to see another pit bull again in my life.”

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