Couple cites vacant home in fatal bee attack on dogby Ryn Gargulinski on May. 29, 2008, under Local, Special
The foreclosed Northwest Side home next door to Brandi and John Comeau is more than an eyesore.
The couple said it led to their dog’s death.
The property, directly east of their home in the 5100 block of West Albatross Place, has sat vacant for about a year. For about the last month, the home has been infested with two large bee nests, said Brandi Comeau, 27.
She came home Tuesday afternoon and found that a massive swarm had left the hives to attack the Comeaus’ dog, 3-year-old, three-legged Chihuahua Stubby. The dog was born with three legs.
“I saw my dog being attacked through the sliding glass window,” she said. “I tried to do what I could, threw water on him, without getting stung myself.”
Her husband grabbed Stubby and ran down the street, trying to dislodge the bees. By the time the couple got Stubby to the vet, the dog was stung more than 250 times.
Initially the vet stabilized the petite pooch.
“The vet’s office called around 10:30 p.m. and said his organs were shutting down,” she said.
John Comeau, 26, went to bid the dog farewell for his wife and their 11-month-old son, Bradyn.
“I feel very concerned for my son’s safety,” the young mother said. “We can’t feel comfortable at all.”
She said the bees started attacking neighborhood dogs after an official from the Tucson Country Crossing Homeowners Association began spraying the nests with an insecticide.
“They were swarming around agitated,” Brandi Comeau said.
Stubby was the only dog who died in the attack.
The bees were still swarming Wednesday afternoon, she said, but it appeared a property manager was on the property.
“Unattended homes are always an issue,” said Rick Hodges, chief executive of the Tucson Association of Realtors. “They were an issue two years ago when there were investors’ homes on the market and are an issue today with rental homes on the market.”
The large number of foreclosures doesn’t help the matter.
The online foreclosure listing service RealtyTrac reported 4,471 foreclosure filings in 2007. Not all filings end in foreclosure or result in a house sitting vacant for an extended period.
Health risks can include infestations of vermin and mosquitoes breeding around unattended swimming pools.
“Bugs and critters don’t respect property lines,” Hodges said.
Liability lies with the home’s owner, he said, which in the case of foreclosures is usually a bank.
He said real estate agents who represent a property are trying to sell it and may keep the property in better shape than one sitting abandoned.
The property directly east of the Comeaus’ is owned by the Michigan-based Jaguar Associated Group LLC, according to the Pima County Assessor’s Office. No one at the group could be reached for comment.
Comeau said she and her husband will discuss whether to present part of the $800 vet’s bill to the homeowners’ association, which did the spraying. No one at the association returned calls for comment.
“I want people to be wary of empty houses for their own safety,” Comeau said. “I don’t want this to happen to anybody else.”
This year has been predicted to be a record year for the bee population, according to bee experts.