COLEMAN, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Stephen Kirkpatrick of Coleman was carpooling to work with his friend Thomas Stubbs Monday morning, and all was going as usual until he says they noticed what they thought at first was a goat being attacked by two dogs.

“As we got closer, I started thinking, ‘That’s no goat. I could see her skull, it had totally scalped her, like, took her hair completely off her head. From the back of her neck to the top of her head, it was gone,” Kirkpatrick says.

According to Kirkpatrick, one dog fled as soon as they arrived, and the other only left after Stubbs was able to kick it off of the 54-year-old woman.

Stubbs ran after the dogs while Kirkpatrick stayed by the woman’s side until an ambulance arrived.

“And I was saying, ‘Just stay still, I mean, if you are still there, just stay still, help’s coming.’ I wanted to help her so bad, but I felt helpless. There just was no life in her,” says Kirkpatrick.

Both men returned to their car once authorities arrived, though Kirkpatrick says neither can shake what they experienced that day.

“He said, ‘Man, I think this has messed up my life,’ and I feel that. Every time I drive down that road, all I picture is that woman getting mutilated,” says Kirkpatrick.

The woman was taken to an Abilene hospital and then flown to a hospital in Dallas. As of Thursday, she is in stable condition and was able to give her statement to Coleman police, according to Coleman City Manager Diana Lopez.

“First and foremost we want to lift that victim, our resident, up in prayer, and our thoughts as a community are with her for a speedy recovery,” Lopez said. “Second, we need to recognize the actions of two citizens who stopped to assist the victim that day. They [Stubbs and Kirkpatrick] placed themselves in harm’s way to help the victim, and their quick thinking and bravery is heroic and selfless.”

The dogs were surrendered voluntarily to the city by their owner and are now in mandatory quarantine. Contrary to a recent misunderstanding, Lopez says they will not be returned.

“They will unfortunately be euthanized because they have been deemed dangerous animals,” says Lopez.

And though this incident may be slightly resolved, it has brought a spotlight on the City of Coleman Animal Control — a department some say is not and has not been doing enough.

“What if it was a kid?” Kirkpatrick says. “It doesn’t matter who it is, there’s dogs all over this place that need to be tended to.”

Lopez also clarified that while she believes the one-woman department is working as efficiently as possible, they do not take in 400-500 dogs a year, as previously stated by Interim Chief of Police Chris Bratton.

“We have gone from on average about 80, 90 dogs a year that were being impounded to about 300 a year. About 50% of those we try to adopt out if they have good temperament. If they do not, we unfortunately have to take next steps with them [Euthanization],” Lopes says.

She says she hopes the community will help in their efforts to focus on enforcement rather than turning to violence.

“In those instances where residents have a concern that they’re not being heard, all they need to do is pick up a phone and call me,” says Lopez.

Adding that a new city phone system ensures that calls will go directly to administration so that no calls should be missed.

Even so, the community is still upset, hoping action will be taken to prevent incidents like this from ever happening again.

“We need to take care of this dog problem we have, because it’s bad, I wouldn’t wish this on anybody. I mean, nobody knows how she felt. Nobody,” says Kirkpatrick.

Lopez said a secondary animal control position was created last year, though never filled due to the pandemic. She hopes any interested party will apply via the website to become a part of the solution.