OAKLAND — In her owner’s eye, Chata the dog really is man’s best friend. And a life saver.
Jimmy Martinez, 54, credits the 4-year-old Labrador and pit bull mix he has had since she was a puppy with saving his life Monday afternoon. A gunman who had already shot him in the hand in a dispute over a parking place in East Oakland, then shot the dog when it came to its owner’s defense.
Martinez believes that had the dog not come to his aid he might have been shot again and possibly killed.
“Chata saved my life,” Martinez said Thursday in a phone interview. (The gunman) shot me and Chata was on him and distracted him from shooting me some more. She definitely is my best friend.”
Chata paid a painful price. She was shot twice in the face by the gunman, who then fled the scene.
She was still recovering at a veterinary hospital on Thursday, having undergone surgery for the gunshots, which entered through her mouth and exited through the jaw and neck, leaving fragments in the jaw.
The incident happened about 12:43 p.m. Monday in the 4700 block of East 12th Street. Martinez, an auto mechanic, and Chata, lived there in an RV that is attached to a truck parked on the street.
The suspect was apparently upset about the parking space being taken up and asked Martinez to move. The suspect reportedly became angry and abusive when Martinez said he would move, but that it would take a few minutes so he could charge his battery.
They started arguing and the suspect left briefly, returned with a gun and pistol-whipped Martinez in the head before shooting him and the dog, police said.
“Over a parking spot!” Martinez exclaimed. It’s just crazy. I was shocked.”
He said after Chata was shot “she was bleeding real bad but she wasn’t crying. She was more concerned about me then herself. She was nuzzling me and she never let up.”
Martinez was treated and released at a hospital and still faces surgery on his hand. He has since relocated his truck and RV to another part of the city.
Chata remains hospitalized and a support group is asking for donations to help cover medical costs for both owner and dog.
Martinez said his love for Chata has grown even more and that “my thoughts are always going to be with her. If it wasn’t for Chata I wouldn’t be here.”
A gofundme site has been set up to help Martinez and Chata with medical bills, and had already raised $1,200 by mid-afternoon Friday.
Police and Crime Stoppers of Oakland are offering up to $7,500 in reward money for information leading to the arrest of the gunman. Anyone with information may call police at 510-238-3426 or Crime Stoppers at 510-777-8572.