VISTA, Calif. - A woman's pit bull is being credited with her rescue from a sexual assault Monday evening, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said.
A 19-year-old woman was walking her dog around 6:30 p.m. in the 700 block of Grapevine Road in Vista when a man attacked her from behind, pushing her to the ground and groping her, according to authorities.
After the victim called for her dog, it began to bark and "may have bitten the suspect," who then took off running eastbound on Planet Road with the canine in chase, authorities said.
A nearby resident told 10News she heard the woman screaming for help.
"She said that a guy in all black came and ripped her pants, pulled her pants down and groped her and her dog chased him off," said the woman.
The dog returned to its owner, but the suspected attacker was not caught.
The bold assault is startling to people who live on the normally quiet street, which is home to an elementary school and a sheriff's department community policing office.
"Walking a pit bull is what I'm surprised [with] because that's a lot of gull to go after someone who has a dog that can defend her, and unfortunately, she didn't train that dog to defend her, but fortunately, he did anyway," said the woman, who stayed with the victim until deputies arrived.
The sheriff's department says it will increase patrols in the area where the attack happened. Deputies are also looking into whether any of the homes have surveillance video.
The man was described as a 25-year-old male of unknown ethnicity, standing 5 feet 6 inches tall, 160-180 pounds, and he was wearing a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt and a dark-colored beanie on his head.
Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477. A $1,000 reward is available for information leading to a felony arrest.