Our 12-pound Cairn terrier (she looks like Toto) spent the first six years of her life in a cage as a breeding dog in a puppy mill. After her rescue, she loved being on the beach – until one day last December at Willard.

She was approached by two large dogs: an Airedale and a German shepherd owned by the same woman. As she stood and wagged her tail, they pounced on her, chased her down the beach and dragged her into the water, where the Airedale picked her up in its mouth and shook her like a rag doll.

As I screamed for help, there was no “voice control” by the owner. One kind and brave man waded into the ocean to help me separate the dogs. It is my great regret that in my panic, I never got this hero’s name, because I believe he saved her life.

As I held my bleeding dog, the Airedale’s owner had the nerve to say, “Your dog is OK – they were only playing!”

We rushed to the vet, where she was treated for bites and puncture wounds, had hemorrhaging in her eyes and needed antibiotics, pain medications and a rabies booster shot.

We reported the incident to Portland Animal Control, since the two dogs lived there, but they could do little since it happened in South Portland. And South Portland Animal Control could do little except tell me my dog would be quarantined for 30 days!

Rebecca Milliken (“Letter to the editor: Unleashed dogs run rampant, jump on children and foul the beach,” Nov. 15) is right.

Many dog owners are fooling themselves if they think their dogs can do no harm. I will never again believe it is safe to take a small dog to any off-leash area.

Sandy Elliott

Cape Elizabeth