ADA — Senior citizens frequently find themselves facing limited mobility, less freedom to do the activities they have enjoyed all their lives. That can be depressing and frightening in itself, but some local seniors are also finding the threat of dangerous dogs running loose terrifying.

“All I could do was sit there and wait for the dog to come at me and tear me up and I couldn’t do a thing to stop it. I was terrified,” said 74-year-old Patsy Horton. She said she was stuck in an electric wheelchair, unable to get enough speed to outrun a large, aggressive part lab and part pitbull, one of two on the loose. Horton said she faced her attacker in an almost heart-stopping moment when a man driving a truck came to her rescue.

Horton said she was shouting for help, but the neighbor who owned the dog didn’t come out of the house to her aid. The unknown driver of the white pickup pounded on his vehicle to scare the dog away and Horton says she is sure that saved her from certain injury. Horton and a friend, 71-year-old Sabina Burris, say that wasn’t the only time the dog had jumped the short chain link fence and menaced the seniors in that neighborhood.

“We were thrilled, Patsy and I, as we went for our daily “cruise” in our electric wheelchairs, deciding to go down Texas Street to see the new wide sidewalk the city was constructing along Lonnie Abbott Boulevard,” Burris said.

Seniors around Jack John Circle had been buzzing with excitement at the sidewalk providing them a new hope for access to the local Wal-Mart SuperStore. “We wanted to see how far the sidewalk extended. It’s within a block of the parking lot now and we can’t wait for it to open up.”

Burris’ 8-year-old grandson, Donnie, was riding on the footrest of her wheelchair and saw the dogs first.

“He was terrified and clung to me. I wrapped my jacket around him to protect him and yelled to Patsy to get out of there fast and I thought she was right behind me. When I got to the top of the hill, I looked back in horror as I saw that dog within two feet of her about to attack her. There was nothing I could do,” Burris said. “Thank God that man helped her.”

Anybody who knows Burris knows how fast she can go in her electric wheelchair. She has a cell phone and shows others how to defend themselves with an umbrella.

Horton had nothing for protection and her chair moved much slower. “You couldn’t pay me to go down that street with that dog maybe running loose. They need to build a corrective fence, the chain link is not keeping them in,” said Francis Hendricks, 76. Residents in that neighborhood have been nervous since the incident happened on Friday, Oct 27. Several local seniors plan to purchase pepper spray and are making plans to use cell phones.

Thursday morning Nov. 2, after looking around to make sure there was no dog in sight, Horton said she took her trash to the dumpster located just west of her housing unit. She placed the bag of refuse on her feet and took off to the dumpster. She said she turned to begin her return journey and saw the mixed-breed dog at the edge of her house waiting. It didn’t attack, but watched her with its head lowered,menacingly.

She called authorities seeking their help. Other residents also called to get help and Horton said they were told nothing could be done.

“The owner listens to the scanner and when animal control is called out the dog gets called in by dog whistle and is locked behind the chain link fence when officers arrive. There’s nothing they can do, the dog isn’t running loose,” Horton said. “The owner knows that there is no animal control service after 5 p.m. and on weekends, so there’s no one we can call. We’re confined to our houses in fear,” she said.

Assistant Police Chief Carl Allen confirmed that animal control had responded to several calls by Horton and the city will take steps to protect the residents from dangerous dogs. “We are taking this seriously and animal control officers are aware of the problem. Mrs. Horton can file a complaint and we will go from there,” Allen said.

There are at least 11 residents in the three-block neighborhood that are elderly and depend on their wheelchairs for mobility. After 5 p.m. and on weekends Call-A-Ride service is unavailable and church buses don’t have wheelchair lifts. The residents can’t go anywhere unless they go with a friend that can still drive.

In the close-knit community of seniors, they use the buddy system checking on one another. The residents have come together to start demanding the little freedom they have to move around shouldn’t be threatened by a vicious, dangerous dog.

“We are hoping the city will require the owner to do the right thing and build a taller fence, leash the dogs or do something to control them so we aren’t terrorized by them running loose. We aren’t against dogs or people having them. Most of us have had dogs we’ve loved, but even those of us that have small dogs are afraid they will be attacked if they go outdoors,” Horton said.

Assistant Police Chief Carl Allen confirmed that animal control had responded to several calls by Horton and the city will take steps to protect the residents from dangerous dogs. “We are taking this seriously and animal control officers are aware of the problem. Mrs. Horton can file a complaint and we will go from there,” Allen said.