VANCOUVER, Wash. - Curly was just 6 months old, and he'd already won Bill and Shannon Savela's hearts.
"To me, it's surprising how emotional I've been about it," said Bill Savela.
"Curly was a wonderful little companion," said Shannon Savela. "And he was happy and he was joyful and he was loving and I need a companion."
An earlier accident put Shannon in a wheelchair. Curly was not just a pet. He was also training to be Shannon's service dog.
Shannon Savela took Curly to the Dakota Memorial dog park in Vancouver on Saturday. They'd been there a half-hour, when another dog that looked like an Alaskan Malamute or Husky chased Curly, caught him and mauled him.
"It was just awful," said Shannon Savela. "It was like - like a bad dream. I don't want to believe it happened."
Animal hospital workers couldn't save Curly. The owner of the dog that mauled Curly never came forward that day and still hasn't.
"Things happened quickly and that owner wants to 'fess up but doesn't know how to contact us," Bill Savela said. "And then the other side is that, as some people have emailed us and texted us and said, 'bad dog, bad owner.' I hope it's not that."
Irresponsible dog owners have been a problem at Dakota Memorial dog park lately. Operators have threatened to shut it down because some dog owners weren't picking up piles of waste.
Tim Carrier walks his dog at the park. He hopes the owner of the dog that mauled Curly apologizes for what happened.
"Absolutely," said Carrier, "It's the owner's responsibility. If they're too rough, they probably shouldn't be here."