The offending dogs have been returned to their owner.

UPDATE: According to Jennifer Brestel with the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, the parent agency of the Office of Animal Welfare, the owner of the two dogs described by Lawton as Malamutes has been cited for dogs at large, failure to license the dogs and failure to vaccinate against rabies.

The dogs at large and failure to vaccinate charges carry fines of $50 or less. The failure to license charge carries a fine of between $50 and $500.

The owner also signed documentation voluntarily agreeing to have the dogs declared potentially dangerous. Under Delaware law, the owner of a potentially dangerous dog must be spayed or neutered, kept indoors or within a securely fenced yard from which it cannot escape and, when off the owner's premises, restrained by a six-foot leash. The owner has 30 days with which to comply with the requirements, and the dogs have been released back into the owner's care.

Lawton said he will file a civil suit attempt to recover the costs of veterinary care, but has little hope he'll ever get the money.

---

A Milford man’s terrier mix is recovering after being attacked by two loose dogs.

Bruce Lawton, 74, lives on Southeast 4th Street in Milford, next to the Little League complex. Around 8:30 a.m. on the morning of Friday, August 10, he was finishing up his walk with Fox, a 25-pound, 9-year-old mixed-breed dog.

They were passing an area on the western side of the complex where several cars were parked when two large dogs that Lawson said were Alaskan Malamutes began to approach them.

“I think they were laying under those trucks, getting some shade,” Lawton said. “They were enormous. They looked like wolves, 85 to 90 pounds apiece.”

As the dogs began to attack Fox, she slipped her collar and sought shelter under another car. The Malamutes each took a side and continued the attack.

Lawton was a letter carrier for more than 30 years and said he learned during that time to never show fear to an aggressive dog and to counter their aggression with your own.

“They were tag teaming my little dog,” he said. “I’m still hoarse from yelling at the top of my lungs.”

For reasons unknown, the dogs eventually gave up the attack and took off. Lawton rushed Fox to Haven Lake Animal Hospital.

“She was bleeding, had at least 14 puncture wounds. Tears in her abdomen and chest,” he said. “Turned out she had broken ribs too.”

Immediately following the attack, Lawton called the Milford Police Department, who responded right away. A Delaware animal welfare officer also responded.

Haven Lake staff immediately performed lifesaving surgery on Fox, but weren’t optimistic that she would make it through the weekend. She was sent home with an e-collar and a Fentanyl patch.

When Lawton returned to the office with her on Monday, August 13, the staff was surprised and pleased by her progress.

“So far, she’s had some milk and some baby food,” Lawton said. “And [on Monday] they gave her laser treatment to speed up the healing of her wounds.”

Lawton has spent about $1,500 on veterinary care for Fox following the attack and expects to spend over $2,000 before she’s totally well.

He commended the Delaware Office of Animal Welfare, who sent an animal welfare officer to investigate the attack.

“He was out here Saturday and Sunday looking for the dogs,” Lawton said.

According to Lawton, animal control was successful in locating the dogs and stopped by his home with them Sunday morning so he could positively identify them as the dogs involved in the attack. Lawton also said the owners had consented to their euthanasia.

The Delaware Office of Animal Welfare did not immediately respond to inquiries. Updates to this story will be made as they are received.