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11/18/2012 6:01:00 AM
Heartache lingers for Kingman woman after Great Danes killed her Yorkies
Judge's order of $15,000 in restitution small comfort to Kingman dog owner
Susan Piccinino sits on her front porch Thursday with (from left) Pearlie, Snickers and Champ.
Susan Piccinino sits on her front porch Thursday with (from left) Pearlie, Snickers and Champ.

Erin Taylor
Miner Staff Reporter

Susan Piccinino just couldn't hold on.

She had already watched as one of her teacup Yorkies was dragged off into a neighbor's yard by an overly aggressive Great Dane. Now she struggled with a second dog that held another of her Yorkies in its jaws.

She pulled one way, but the Great Dane pulled back harder. The Yorkie's screams were unbearable, she said, as the 80-plus pound Great Dane maintained its grip on the tiny dog.

The Great Dane won.

The death of the two Yorkies in July resulted in a court case that concluded in Kingman Justice Court Wednesday after the owner of the Great Danes was ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution.

"Can you pay any of that today?" Judge John Taylor sympathetically asked of the neighbor, Tiffaney Adkins.

"I won't be able to pay it at all," the 22-year-old quietly replied while struggling to hold back tears.

Piccinino said that despite the large judgment, her court victory felt hollow.

"I would prefer to have my dogs back," she said.

Piccinino said the situation started at the beginning of the year when Adkins brought home a Great Dane that gave birth to several puppies. Piccinino accused Adkins of never being home and said the puppies were allowed to roam the neighborhood for months while the mother was tethered in the yard.

That fueled the mother's aggressiveness, Piccinino said, which she then passed on to her puppies.

"The mother, of course, was protective of her pups, as any mother would be," Piccinino said.

Piccinino lives next door to Adkins on Eagle Drive in north Kingman. She is on a fixed income and used the Yorkies as breeders to supplement her income. But the dogs were more than a business venture for her, she said. They helped fill the void she felt after the sudden death of her 21-year-old son several years ago.

"They were my family," she said. "They were like my children."

The addition and treatment of the Great Danes sparked a feud between the neighbors that continued for several months until only two of the litter remained.

Piccinino said that on the morning of July 11, she let her dogs out at the same time she did every morning.

"That was a mistake," Piccinino said. "Those (Great Danes) knew our routine."

Piccinino's 5-year-old Yorkie, Peanut, and Peanut's 4-year-old daughter, Honey Gurl, scrambled under Piccinino's feet before eagerly bolting off the patio and into the backyard for their morning bathroom break.

Piccinino couldn't see from where she was standing that the Great Danes had dug a large hole under the fence and were waiting in her yard.

"I heard them screaming and ran over there," she said.

By the time Piccinino got to the edge of the patio, one of the Great Danes had already snatched Honey Gurl and taken her back into Adkins' yard. Peanut, at five pounds, mounted her best defense to save her daughter, but was no match for the overpowering Great Dane.

Piccinino grabbed a shovel and tried to fight off the dog that now had Peanut is its mouth by the scruff of her neck. She grabbed the dog's jaw and they got into a tug of war over Peanut.

"I had her but he would not let go," Piccinino said. "He was pulling my arms under the fence and she was screaming bloody murder."

She eventually let go and watched as the Great Danes finished their attack.

"I have never seen a domestic dog go so wild as to eat another domestic dog," she said.

Piccinino then barricaded herself and her other dogs inside her home after calling 911. She said an animal control officer arrived 45 minutes later and took control of the dogs. One was later destroyed and the other was given to a family member, Adkins said in court.

The Yorkies' deaths intensified the feud between the two neighbors and Piccinino ultimately took out a restraining order against Adkins. Piccinino said she was emotionally consumed by what happened - and she wasn't the only one.

One of her other dogs, a male Yorkie named Champ, dropped down to two pounds as he mourned the loss of his playmates.

"Those were his girls," Piccinino said.

She said she was reminded of what happened every time she saw the bloodstains, which remained in Adkins' backyard until the rain washed them away one evening.

Adkins pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of liability after initially being cited for not having a license for either dog involved in the attack. Under terms of a plea agreement, she was guaranteed no jail time, but was ordered to pay restitution to Piccinino for her loss, the amount of which was to be determined by the judge during a hearing Wednesday.

At that hearing, Piccinino asserted that she was owed the value of her two Yorkies as well as the value of the offspring from future litters. Piccinino said she does not breed her animals after the age of 8, meaning the Peanut and Honey Gurl would have had one to two breeding cycles left.

She presented the court with listings off the Internet showing the price of similar teacup Yorkies, with some selling for up to $8,000.

Judge Taylor agreed with Piccinino's claim and ordered Adkins to pay a total of $15,280.

The amount includes $2,500 for each of the dogs that were killed, $700 for repairs to a fence damaged by the Great Danes, $9,200 for the Yorkies' future litters and $380 for mileage to transport the animals to buyers.

Adkins, who testified briefly at the hearing, appeared stunned at the amount, which the judge said could not be discharged through bankruptcy. Adkins' attorney mouthed an apology before Tiffaney rushed out of the courtroom with her boyfriend. She could not be reached for comment for this article.

Piccinino said she doubts she'll ever receive the full amount she's owed but said she hopes Adkins thinks about her dead Yorkies every time she makes a monthly payment.

She applauds efforts like Arizona's Aggressive Dog Owner Responsibility Law, which was enacted last year and holds owners criminally liable for damages caused by their animals. But she said it doesn't go far enough to ensure owners are held responsible for the actions of their dogs. She said she doesn't condemn aggressive dogs, but rather the owner for failing to properly care for her animals.

She sees her case as an example of what happens when an animal owner neglects their dogs and allows them to become a threat to neighbors and other pets.

"I still have nightmares about that day. But I am glad to have sacrificed my dogs, because if it had been a child ..." she said, without completing her thought.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, January 12, 2013
Article comment by: He Said She Said

Arizona House Bill 2549 PASSED April 2, 2012 We all wish the internet to be civil. For every well-reasoned, considerate comment out there, there is a dozen violent, malicious rants from individuals who use gossip as fact ..... Bill 2549, uses broad language that could turn a troubling large amount of online Cyber comments into a class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail, three years' probation and a $2,500 fine..... Google it before you slander Victims or Criminals unless you have legal documents to back up your words. Just ask a Cop.

Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013
Article comment by: To Pomeroy

Shame on you for using God's name in your attempts to convict and Judge Victims and defend Criminals.

Were you there the day when Police & Animal Control Investigated and took photos of the Crime Scene? Your last sentence sounds like a threat, hopefully that is not the case

Pictures tell a thousand words as was presented to the Judge in a Mohave County Court of Law. As well as written substantial evidence from Animal Control reports. Laws were violated

Seems like with all your first hand knowledge you should have stepped up at the TRIAL as a legal witness The State of AZ PROSECUTED Tiffaney according to the LAW and found her Guilty as charged. NOT the Victim

Laws are made to protect Society. Restitution is determined and ordered by a Judge deemed Justice served befitting the Crime. Everyone knows if you can not pay the fine do not do the crime

Posted: Saturday, December 22, 2012
Article comment by: Linda Pomeroy

I can not as a breeder of Dachshunds and Shepherds believe that these people do not know the laws of the pack, nor do I believe that these dogs dug under her fence. I do however believe that her little dogs dug under the fence and provoked the attack. Little dogs are meaner that most large dog breeds. Great Danes are gentle Giants but dogs have arguments and fight just like we humans do.Dogs are territoriality and if another dog invades there area they will defend there area.I cannot believe this women wants to (1) Put this young girl in jail for being an irresponsible dog owner.yet her animals were contained in her own yard with food and water, lack of these would be irresponsible. (2) I can understand the hurt and anger and the loss but I can not understand this women wanting to hurt and destroy a persons life. God tell us we need to forgive and this is what is wrong with this world today the hating for you neighbor. no you will never forget but God does not tell you to hunt down and destroy your fellow man if he hurts you. This young girl was not even home the day this happened. Forgive and go on and live your life before worse happens for being greedy and vindictive.

Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Article comment by: The Law Is Law

LAWS: When dogs attack, it's a no-win situation. 32 States now impose strict Owner Liability for Dog Attacks. Laws exist in society for a reason. If there were no repercussions for Criminal actions, there would be chaos in every City, County and State.

It is now a Criminal Act Prosecuted by the State of Arizona#33 making Owners legally liable for Dog attacks and giving them a Criminal Record. There is no moral justifications for breaking the LAW. Know your legal Rights and Obligations. Law Enforcers Judges, Prosecuting Attorneys, Police, etc. use is that “Not Knowing the Laws” does not mean that you are not subject to it. Consequences are Conviction by the Courts. In most cases Defendants PLEA BARGAIN out of Jail time, but fines and Restitution are never excused by the Laws when Criminals Plead Guilty.

Posted: Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Article comment by: Hey TJ


Try curbing your hostility and read the last sentence of my post.

" Poor owners of mean breeds are worse the the dogs".

Unless YOUR a poor owner of your beloved mean breed this should not have been a personal attack on you.

However , your response speaks for itself.

Posted: Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Article comment by: tj denton

not a fan.

owning a pitbull makes you worse than a dog? you do know that any unknown cat that comes into ANY dogs yard will be chased or attacked right? no matter the breed. everyone who constantly bags on pitbulls are just ignorant thats all. just plain ignorant.

Posted: Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Article comment by: Not a fan

On Monday my favorite cat was mauled and killed by one neighbors dogs. The neighbors keep the animals outside permanetly. They bark non stop day and night. I never see a water bowl or food dish in the yard.

These people arent pet owners. They are prison keepers. Their animals are miserable.

Im sure the cat was just popping in the say hello.
For his effort the large white Pitt Bull broke every bone in the curious cats body.

Sure is different without the ol cat hanging around. However the nonstop Pitt bull barking for his next play toy will keep me reminded. Poor owners of mean breeds are worse then the dogs.

Posted: Monday, November 26, 2012
Article comment by: Janet Udave

When one of the comments sarcastically poked fun at Ms.Piccinino because she considers her cute Yorkies like her own children, wasn't anyone paying attention to the story? Her real biological 21 year old son died tragically and unexpectedly last year. That justifies in my opinion the fact that her little dogs have helped and comforted Ms. Piccinino while she is grieving for her lost son. I agree that many Birdland residents unfortunately seem to hoard their dogs and don't give their dogs enough love or food, or recreation away from being shut out all the time in the yard or even smaller areas. In Sept. 2001 only two weeks after the 911 attack in New York, I was witness to my next door neighbors beautiful Siamese cat being viciously attacked and killed at 3:00 A.M. The murderer was of course a neighbors Pit Bull and a Shepard Mix dog. The cat's owner was a drug addict and she cried when she found her cat dead in her yard, but she was partly to blame for letting her cat run free outside . I called the owners of the Pit bull to report what their dog had done and I received a nasty uncaring response. So goes some of the Residents who call Kingman their home. But it certainly is not my forever home I sincerely hope and pray. I love animals and hate to see any form of abuse or mistreatment of dogs and cats , or any animals in this world. Very sorry for your loss Ms. Piccinino. Take care.

Posted: Monday, November 26, 2012
Article comment by: raise your pets

Everyone says. My pets are my babies, My children. Id do anything for them.

Well...This means you have to watch them like children too. Your responsible for your childrens actions until grown. Guess what. Same should go for your pets.

You leave the pool gate open. A baby drowns.
You leave dogs on thier own. Something is going to go wrong. In this case horribly wrong.

The breed doesnt matter. My super docile 8 lb mini Doxie rips my buddies shirt off for taking away his toy. Any dog can be a Mean dog anytime they feel the need.

Posted: Sunday, November 25, 2012
Article comment by: Tj Denton

One day. For one you are wrong. So lets just get that out of the way. For two, pitbulls arent even in the top ten most aggressive breeds. And for three, if you threatened any animal, including human beings to "revert to their natural insticts" they would attack you! Every single one, so your statement makes no sense. Its all how you train them, i can train a golden retriever to be an attack dog.

Posted: Sunday, November 25, 2012
Article comment by: Well Earl

You may have lived a thousand years with Pit Bulls in your lap. Ive been attacked by a loving, docile, wonderful Pit. I was trying to get it a dog treat and got scars for my gesture.

Does that negate your experience?

NO...It only proves there are Pits that attack and pits that don't.

Humm just like people

Posted: Sunday, November 25, 2012
Article comment by: Daniel Richardson

I had tow dogs attack my schnauzer through a chain link fence causing damage to his left eye lid and damaged his nostrals while visiting friends in Kingman and when animal control showed up they said we had to have photos of the dogs outside of the owners yard before they could do anything other than a verbal warning. Well, the verbal warning has done nothing as these dogs are out nearly every night wandering the neighborhood there and one night someone will get hurt by these dogs. Shame we can't get control of loose dogs here.

Posted: Sunday, November 25, 2012
Article comment by: Heartbreaking Story

As an ex-breeder of German Sherpards I was greatly upset by this article. In my younger years, with a son to support, I raised dogs for show. When I was away from home the dogs were kept in a locked "dog run", not my back yard.

I was advised by the breeders of my dogs that this was the only proper way to insure that both my dogs and my community were safe. The lock on the run was to insure that no one could steal my dogs, which cost a bit of money. If you are going to breed any large dog you need a run or kennel. If you have the money to buy the dog to breed you should have investigated how to do it first. Any AKC registered breed is not cheep, including Danes.

I have no sympathy for someone who is so irresponsible. She should consider herself lucky it was not her child that was attacked. I had a cousin attacked by a dane who broke his chain. My cousin reguired 108 stitches to his face.

Posted: Friday, November 23, 2012
Article comment by: Earl Anderson III

I don't know how this turned into a pit bull bashing. But you are dead wrong. The dogs were historically bred to fight other dogs. Human aggression was not tolerated in the pit. Human aggression started when irresponsible breeders began breeding them paying no attention to temperament to make a quick buck. My three GROWN kids can attest to the docile temperaments of the breed as well as my grand kids having grown up around them. Your assumption is ludichrist giving that I am a senior and having owned a few in my life time living to old age without incident. Any breed of dog can become dangerous in the wrong hands.

Posted: Thursday, November 22, 2012
Article comment by: $15,000 ...whatever!

Though I feel for this breeder who lost her cash cows.. $15,000 is ridiculous. Only in Mohave county.

Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Article comment by: One day you will see

TJ Denton,

Yea yea yea....You know for a fact that you can remove by whatever means the instinctual elements from an animal.

HAHAHAHA....right. The Pit breed was created for killing. All the love, petting, dog treats, sleeping with people, and eating from your hand will NEVER change the genetic makeup of your Pit Bull.

If your dog is threatened to the point of reverting to its natural instinct. It will rip your face off as fast as it would another animals.

You want to compare "all my life" experiences. Mine has been seeing four attacks ending in disfigurement by "loving, sweet" dogs.

Three of which were Pit Bulls.

So keep on kissing yours on the snout and believing you can control a killers instinct.

Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Article comment by: Kingman Resident

Oh, Poor Tiffany! Jen J's comments are ridiculous. Tiffany wasn't available for comment on this story. Either she ignored requests for comment or was not reachable. Either way and without her to defend herself she is guilty of the accusations made by others. Tiffany, it seems, was the only named individual responsible for her dangerous dogs. She is the individual who created the agressive behavior of her pets. She's responsible!! Doesn't anyone know what it means to be responsible anymore? Further, what's unbelievable is that people ignore the fact that Poor Tiffany's dog KILLED. She should remain apologetic for as long as it takes her to pay the restitution. If I were susan, I'd file orders to show cause each time she makes excuses not to pay, or begins to stop payments. Eventually, not paying restitution will put someone in jail. Good luck Poor Tiffany.

Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Article comment by: Tj Denton

Very happy, i like how you think that pitbulls are so horrible, when dobermans, chows, shar peis, mastifs and corsa canes are all more aggressive. Ive had pitbulls my whole life and never once have my family or me even been snarled at.

Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Article comment by: Man's Best Friend

This is either the second Great Dane attack in this area or links to other story are missing. As I recall people were bit in the other story.
One person mentioned here in Comments that Great Danes were gentle giants, I used to have one and that was what he was. He was attacked on numerous occasions by small dogs and he just held his head up higher and looked about as though perhaps he heard a fly.
So what is happening here to this breed? Also a question is security, if it is dangerous to own a dog due to laws, we will look like a city that would be easy pickin's. Gangs are looking for areas with large numbers of guns and they are willing to lose one member to get one gun.

Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Article comment by: Very happy for the law

If you have dangerous dogs or you neglect to keep your dogs from becoming dangerous.

You deserve to be held responsible for anything the animals harm.

What a great LONG overdue law.

Now the fools with those oh so loving pit bulls can PAY UP when their sweetheart rips someones face to shreads.

Posted: Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Article comment by: T.S. *

Apparently you CAN put a value on your family, huh? While I agree that Susan should be compensated in court for her loss, I do believe that it went WAY too far.
Whatever happened to forgiveness in this world? It seems to me that someone who feels it is necessary to breed her animals for "supplemental income" is focused on the financial loss rather than the human element.
Both families lost their dogs, and while sad, we are still human, or so I thought.
I wish I could just give Tiffany the money to pay off Susan's "Loss". So that she wouldn't have to spend the next however-many-years it takes to pay off this case and be reminded every month of her dead Yorkies as Susan would wish.

Posted: Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Article comment by: Real sorry

She's apologetic? All I see here are a bunch of comments from Tiffany's friends excusing her from being a responsible pet owner. She can't speak for herself? Maybe more people will take their obligations seriously knowing that they're be financially liable. Expensive lesson in responsibility. Like Susan said, she'd much rather just have her dogs back.

Posted: Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Article comment by: Caring and concerned friend

Jen J thank you for your comment. It is sad that these 2 cute little dogs were killed and Tiffaney does feel upset about what happened. It is nice to see someone is looking at the big picture. Susan seems to be living very comfortably thanks to her "girls" her dogs and Tiffaney is supporting her son and now with what little money she may have between paying bills and taking care of her son she will have to give to Susan. .

Posted: Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Article comment by: another dog owner

So was it only one neighbor's responsibility to check the fence daily? If the yorkies' owner was fearful of the Great Danes then she should have been checking the fence to protect her dogs. You wouldn't let your preschooler out to run around the yard without making sure it was safe first, would you? It is sad the dogs were killed. However, it is the responsibility of both owners to make sure their respective dogs are safe. Perhaps the owner of the yorkies should invest in some life insurance for her dogs, if they are that important to her. Afterall, they are her "supplemental income."

Posted: Monday, November 19, 2012
Article comment by: Jen J

OMG!!! Did this really make front page of Sundays paper!! That poor girl!!! You should be ashamed that you would do this to her in this economy and she has kids. What is wrong with people. Although sad, they are not kids. So while you get all this money from her what will her kids miss out on, huh? FOOD, CLOTHES, COLLEGE....... just saying,,,, this is unbelievable.

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