NORTH HUNTINGDON (KDKA) — Police say a dog suffocated after he was muzzled by a pet-sitter who claimed the dog tried to bite her, but the dog-sitter says it was just a horrible accident.
According to a criminal complaint, a woman left her dog, Tucker, with Erin McGough on Thursday, July 13. The dog’s owners had arranged for McGough to watch Tucker while they were away for the weekend.
A few hours after the woman left the dog with McGough, she received a text message from her saying Tucker was missing.
She also said she had muzzled Tucker because he bit McGough while she was trying to “coax and push” him down stairs to go outside.
“I kind of shuffled him, and he turned his head and bit me on my knuckle,” Erin said.
She then decided to put a muzzle on Tucker.
“I went and I got the muzzle, and I put the muzzle from my dog onto [Tucker] because I don’t want to be bit, and I didn’t want my daughter to get bit,” Erin said.
The complaint says when Tucker’s owner later asked how bad the dog bite was, she saw McGough had no broken skin or puncture marks.
According to the complaint, McGough said the muzzle was too small for Tucker, but she “chased Tucker down” and was able to get the muzzle clasped. She then placed Tucker outside, and he went missing sometime after that.
“He’s gone. I don’t have any idea how he truly got out. He ran away,” McGough said.
Tucker was found dead the next day, about six houses down from McGough’s home.
“I’m so sorry,” McGough told KDKA-TV’s Ross Guidotti. “I didn’t mean for this to happen.”
A necropsy was performed at the Munhall Veterinary Hospital, and a veterinarian determined that the cause of death was suffocation.
The criminal complaint says Tucker was unable to eat, drink, pant or breathe because the muzzle severely restricted his ability to move his jaw.
“I had no idea it was because of the muzzle,” McGough said. “I was horrified … It wasn’t an intentional act on my part.”
Regardless, McGough now faces two counts of cruelty to animals.