Staff at the Dothan Animal Shelter say they were shocked by the scene when they opened the facility on Thursday morning.
“These dogs just went on a rampage,” shelter director Bill Banks told local station WTVY on Thursday.
After taking a look at the scene, Banks said the two pit bulls forced their way out of their cage, then pushed through the chainlink fence of a neighbouring cat enclosure. He says the fencing on the enclosure was weaker from the outside.
“They chewed the chainlink,” Banks said. “They just kept pushing and pushing on the fence.”
Both dogs were new to the shelter, Banks said. They were picked up as strays earlier in the day on Wednesday.
Pit bulls are legal in Dothan, although a handful of other Alabama communities have banned them.
Pit bull-type dogs have sparked controversy throughout the United States and Canada amid concerns that they present a danger to humans. However, pit bull advocates argue that they are not dangerous if they have been properly bred and trained.
Some lawmakers have responded to the controversy by imposing specific licensing rules or outright bans.
City officials said they were shocked and saddened by the tragedy, which comes amid a push to fund a new multimillion-dollar animal shelter.
“These dogs were able to eat their way out, for lack of a better term, and attack these cats,” said Beth Kenward, Dothan’s city commissioner. “That is horrible.”
Banks also blamed the incident on lack of funding for the animal shelter.
“This is just an example of what can happen with old equipment,” he said.
Mayor Saliba says he hopes some good can come of the horrible event.
“Sometimes, tragedy causes us to move faster,” he said. No decision has been made on the dogs’ future.