An Oklahoma City woman was arrested after she broke into the Oklahoma City Animal Welfare and took off with her pit bull. Toya Stewart said she broke into the animal shelter on Monday, February 14, to save her dog Hazel which was just hours away from being euthanized.
The woman was arrested for burglary/ breaking and entering along with vandalism of property offenses but was later released from jail on Friday, February 18. Toya told KFOR that she was trying to save her best friend Hazel from dying after the court ordered to euthanize the “dangerous” dog.
“She doesn’t deserve it and they knew that I loved her,” Stewart said. “Why would you kill somebody that somebody loved so much?” Pit bulls have had a lot of bad press, many states have banned pit bulls and some insurance policies and housing options also exclude them.
Earlier it was popular to breed pit bulls for their power and aggression. Brutal stories about their fights and attacks by the media have created a bad reputation for dogs labeled as pit bulls.
Toya got Hazel when the dog was just two months old and was her service dog throughout an abusive relationship and when she became homeless. “She helped me through a lot. She protected me through this relationship and protected me through life,” Toya said.
“Ms. Stewart’s dog came into us on October 4, 2021. She came in due to being involved in an attack and a bite on a person. Ms. Stewart was charged with harboring a dangerous animal.
On January 24, 2022, the dog involved was deemed dangerous by the court and the judge ordered euthanasia of the dog,” Jon Gary, Oklahoma City Animal Welfare Superintendent told Newsweek.
Hazel lived with Toya for three days before it was taken back to the pound and euthanized while Toya was arrested. Gary said Hazel had some issues and the dog was deemed “dangerous”. “We originally impounded the dog due to dangerous charges being filed against the dog,” Gary said.
“We have a secure area that was broken into, and they were able to break a window and get into the building,” Gary said. Eventually, the police tracked down Hazel and took the dog to the shelter while Toya was taken to jail.
Toya said that although Hazel was involved in some biting incidents and one dog fight, it never caused any problems to their family, “She was just real protective,” she said.
So when the judge reviewed Hazel’s biting incidents and ordered to euthanize the dog, Stewart said she had to go after her, “I couldn’t let her die like that,” Stewart said. “I had to let her know that I’ve tried everything for her.”
Stewart revealed that after she broke in, she searched around for Hazel’s cage, opened it before taking off. “We army crawled together under this fence to get out of there. We took off running through the woods,” Stewart shared.
“She stayed beside me. She just doesn’t deserve that,” Toya said crying. Her family held a balloon release to honor Hazel at 1 pm on March 6.