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Billings family hopes for more safety after pet killed at Centennial dog park

Posted at 4:35 PM, Apr 23, 2024

On Sunday, a 16-year-old Chihuahua named Rocco was attacked and killed by another dog at Centennial dog park in Billings.

According to Rocco's owners, Kami and Rodney Bodine, they were in the middle of their first lap around the park Sunday afternoon when a husky attacked Rocco, picking him up in its jaws.

The Bodines said the nightmare transpired quickly.

"I was no more than two feet away," Kami said Monday. "It was so fast, like unbelievably fast."

Kami said that a group of dogs approached her family, and she didn't think anything of it because it's normal for them to sniff one another. Suddenly, she said the husky clamped down on Rocco and from then, it was a blur.

"I really don't remember every detail other than just falling to my knees and trying to shove my own arm inside his mouth," Kami said. "His body fell and hit the ground and he squealed, but I could tell his neck was at a strange angle."

Kami and Rodney Bodine

And then Kami said the husky grabbed Rocco again, and that was when Rodney stepped in.

"I grabbed the husky's mouth and he dropped Rocco," Rodney said. "And I just picked up my dog and left. I didn't care whose dog it was. It was about my dog."

The Bodines rushed out of the dog park, hoping to get Rocco medical attention. By the time they made it to their vehicle, it was already too late.

"That was our first dog together," Rodney said. "It was a present to my daughter. She grew up with that dog."

In the days that have followed, it's been a tough pill for the family to swallow.

"It's just the unfairness of it," Kami said. "The shock wears off and then the sadness creeps in."

Through social media, the Bodines have been actively trying to track down the owners of the husky. The family did confirm that Billings Animal Control has been investigating the incident. MTN left multiple messages with Animal Control Tuesday but received no immediate response.

The incident has raised questions over the safety of the dog park. Regular visitor Latasha Stafford is among those concerned about her pet's safety.

"I was horrified, I'll be honest," Stafford said of Rocco's story Tuesday morning. "I couldn't imagine. Even with (my dog), I know he's bigger and he'd be able to hold his own, but even getting attacked would also be awful."

Stafford at Centennial Park

Stafford said she's hopeful other dog owners pay closer attention to the park rules.

"If you know your dog has the tendency to attack other dogs, you should take it upon yourself to make sure incidents don't occur," Stafford said.

And while the Bodines are still heartbroken over their loss, they're hopeful that their incident can help educate others.

"Now the conversation is rolling and hopefully they can become safer places," Kami said.