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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: Monday, November 19, 2012
Article comment by: tj denton

only in moco

i agree that it is a sad situation, but im sure neither parties wished it to happen. the tiffany woman seems to be apologetic and i believe in forgiveness. so yes, i suppose believing in forgivness is a fault that some of us mohave county residents have, my apologies.

Posted: Monday, November 19, 2012
Article comment by: Only in Mohave County

Only in Mohave County could a woman who watched her dogs being eaten to death be called vindictive (tj Denton).

Only in Mohave County could someone be accused of antagonizing the dogs when the incident happened inside her own fenced yard. (Kingman neighbor, Ashley Hillebrand).

Only in Mohave County do people not understand that some of us love our pets and think more than to just chain them up in a yard and toss food to them every once in a while.

Only in Mohave County. Of course, the way this town treats its children, is anyone really surprised by how its residents treat their pets? You'd think Kingman would get tired of being the laughingstock of the state for once. This is YOUR town. Doesn't anyone care?

Posted: Monday, November 19, 2012
Article comment by: tj denton

sorry about the dogs but from what im reading this piccinino lady seems pretty vindictive, and hoping that this girl relives a horrible memory all of the time seems very vengeful.

Posted: Monday, November 19, 2012
Article comment by: Tracy Thigmorgan

Which is it, dogs are your babies, or dogs are a commodity with which to supplement your income? Both positions are nuts. I am a dog owner, but they are not my babies. They are dogs.

Posted: Monday, November 19, 2012
Article comment by: Gabby B

My sympathy for the loss of your beloved pets Susan.
I'm really appalled at some of the comments pointing a finger at the Yorkies for their misfortune! Unless they were "super" yorkies, able to leap tall great danes with a single bound, their fate was sealed!
I'm wondering when the last time these "gentle giants" had a good meal. Seems to me that it must have been quite a while because they ATE the yorkies!
People always find a victim, no matter whether it's the right victim or not. For those who think it's the yorkies fault... you need to get a life!
I hope you get well deserved justice for the loss of your little four legged family members Susan.
I'm sorry this happened to you!

Posted: Monday, November 19, 2012
Article comment by: Animal Lover

The law is the LAW either follow it or suffer the consequences of breaking it. A "single mother" had no business having giant dogs she could not take care of .... Texas and Arizona Dog Owners Liable For Pet’s Actions Gov Brewer signed this LAW in 2011 (Arizona state House Bill 2137) ... read = their dog was killed they fought hard for their rights and to change LAWS so this won’t happen again. And NOW the LAW is alive in Mohave County due to this event. Everyone should know if your dog attacks it is put down by Animal Control. It is NOT Voluntary. Just like raising kids if you raise them wrong they turn into criminals and the parents suffer responsible Most people would not have fought all summer in court the would have turned Vigilante. Who would you rescue in a fight Great Dane or Yorkie, reality check

Posted: Monday, November 19, 2012
Article comment by: Teresa Wegscheid

What a sad, horrific story. I can't even imagine being a witness to this event. My prayers are with Ms.Piccinino.

May Ms. Piccinino take comfort in reuniting with her babies at Rainbow Bridge.

Posted: Sunday, November 18, 2012
Article comment by: no name provided

An extremely sad situation, and no one should lose their pets so violently.

How sad that two backyard breeders had the misfortune of living next to each other.

However, what an anthropomorphic article...

Posted: Sunday, November 18, 2012
Article comment by: kingman neighbor

Did she bother to mention that Tiffany is a single mom and works a full time job to support her kid.... no all that matters is a stingy old lady that antagonized this "family" and now they have to pay

Posted: Sunday, November 18, 2012
Article comment by: Ashley Hillebrand

WTH I know this dog and there is more to this story!!!! She is loving and great with all the kids so what did this woman or her dogs do to antagonize the dog.

Posted: Sunday, November 18, 2012
Article comment by: Susan Piccinino

Thank you Erin for your support I appreciate you writing our story. Being a Victim in a criminal case was difficult. If it had not been for Shawna Logsdon, Specialist for Mohave County Victim/Witness Advocate Services I would have not found the courage to fight for Justice. County Attorney Michael Powell's expertise in bringing this criminal to Justice was an asset. You are all heroes to me. I sincerely hope this brings "Aggressive Dog Owner Responsibility Laws" to the forefront in Mohave County so this never happens to anyone else. An ounce of prevention is worth 15,000 of cure.

Posted: Sunday, November 18, 2012
Article comment by: very angry Person

i understand that this women is just so sad over the dogs lost . .but they failed to mention the great Dane owner had the dog put down and shortly after lost the other dog she owned. Poor Susan no you know what she got the judgment she asked for yet can not let this go . . seriously Tiffaney is a very great friend of mine and this has been taken way to far!!! Susan needs to accept what she has been given and let this go so Tiffaney can move on with her life!!!!

Posted: Sunday, November 18, 2012
Article comment by: gun owner 000

There seems to be a great deal of this going on here in Kingman. For some unknown reason, people get a dog, and treat it as if it were a stuffed be played with when they feel like it, and "put away" when they're not interested. We constantly hear barking dogs, all day long and nighttime , too. They are dogs left alone by their owners. They don't hear the dogs, mainly because they're off earning a living, partying, or smoking dope. When confronted with a complaint, they deny having any problem....because the dog in question behaves perfectly when they are present.
Dogs are living creatures, not toys. If you want to own one, be prepared for a full-time commitment.

Posted: Sunday, November 18, 2012
Article comment by: Gus Reams

Too much irresponsible animal ownership in this County. Too many "save the animals" places in this County. Too many unending animal stories in this newspaper.

Posted: Sunday, November 18, 2012
Article comment by: Great Dane Owner

I cannot imagine the pain of Ms Piccinino and my heart hurts for her. I am full of outrage regarding the events in which her little ones were murdered and I am also extremely dismayed at the irresponsibility of the Great Dane owner, Danes (one of which is part of my family) are known as "gentle giants" for a very good reason. They are generaly superb family dogs and lovers of children. But as humans, we are responsible for them. These events are travesties not only for Ms Piccinino and her Yorkies but also for the abuse of the Danes. I hope she gets the restitution and Ms Adkins remains pet free.

Posted: Sunday, November 18, 2012
Article comment by: Old Desert Woman

This is an awful event but I'm wondering why are both parties are raising dogs? Are they puppy mills? Supplementing her income? Does she have a right to do this, legally? I am wondering about this as there are too many people who continue to breed animals. Both parties were at fault here if they were not doing this legally., What is the matter with people? What if these were children?

Posted: Sunday, November 18, 2012
Article comment by: Dale and Alan Rodberg

Dear Susan:

My husband and I are so sorry for the loss of your dear sweet, Honey Gurl and Peanut. How horrible for you. Your two "kids" are waiting for you up in Rainbow Heaven. We have some "kids" up there also, maybe they now know each other. They are fine and running around waiting for you! We send you HUGS & LOVE!

God bless you!

Posted: Sunday, November 18, 2012
Article comment by: Sally Bird

78as0qI am so very sorry for your loss. The owner of the Great Danes should not only be fined in dollars but she should serve time for the murder of your two dear ones. Dogs are not born bad, they are made bad by bad owners.

I have two dogs both medium/large. Even though the yard is fully enclosed they are never out without supervison. I can't see them doing something like this, but there are other dogs running loose in the area that could harm them.

If something happened to one of mine I can guarantee I wouldn't go through a court to settle the situation. Money could never compensate me for such a loss.

You and your little ones are in my prayers.

Posted: Sunday, November 18, 2012
Article comment by: daisey duke

susan, i am so sorry for your loss. i know the feeling, my dogs are my babies. that 22 year old own her house? there two many dogs in kingman that are agressive. and dog owners just don't pay attention, protect yourself and your love ones. buy a gun !!!!!

Posted: Sunday, November 18, 2012
Article comment by: Donnae Ellis

This makes front page news and a page & a half to boot but President Obama's presdential win doesn't. What Gives?

Posted: Sunday, November 18, 2012
Article comment by: Sad Story

It never ceases to amaze me how people buy dogs only to leave them unattended all day to harass the neighborhood. We have them in our neighborhood too. So sad the way this ended for Piccinino.

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