Tico was with Lorraine Marie Anderson when her mother died from cancer, when her long-time boyfriend left her and when she was evicted from her house.
Tico, her 15-year-old Chihuahua, was mauled to death by two pit bulls Monday morning.
Anderson, 59, and Tico met about 15 years ago when she was looking for a companion dog at a person’s home in Port St. Lucie.
“He came up to my foot, and he was untying my laces in my sneakers,” she said. “He just adopted me.”
This is the third pit bull attack in Alachua County that led to a dog being mauled to death in the last six months.
In December, Fred, a pug and beagle mix, was killed by Buster, a pit bull, while on a walk. In September, Bella was also killed by three pit bulls while on a walk.
On Monday morning, Anderson was walking her two Chihuahuas, Tico and 13-year-old Precious, on the 3400 block of Northwest 21st Drive when she heard two growling dogs behind her, said Gainsville Police Chief Inspector Jorge Campos.
When she turned around, she saw two pit bulls ready to attack, Anderson said. The pit bulls had escaped through a hole in a fence.
She picked up her dogs and started walking, but the pit bulls attacked and began biting her body and head, she said.
“They knocked me down from behind, and they started chewing me and mutilating me. I would not let go of my little dog,” she said. “It was so bad I had to let them go.”
Tico was dragged back to the yard and mauled to death by one of the dogs, as the other continued to attack Anderson, she said. Precious ran away.
She had deep puncture wounds on her arms, a partially severed right ear and lacerations on her back and neck, according to a Gainesville Police incident report.
She was taken to UF Health Shands Hospital, Campos said.
The owner of the pit bulls, William Woodrow Hicks, 26, of Gainesville, told police the dogs have never been aggressive toward animals before, the report said.
The incident is being handled by the Alachua County Animal Services Department, Campos said.
Hicks surrendered the pit bulls to animal services, said Ed Williams, the animal services director. They will be euthanized after a 10-day bite quarantine.
Hicks is not being charged because he surrendered the pit bulls and had no prior incidents involving the dogs, Williams said.
“He was pretty upset about it,” Williams said. “He did the right thing.”
Hicks did not want to comment on the incident.