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Pit Bull Attacks Boy, 6, His Baby Sitter

Animal control: The young victim suffers 10 to 12 wounds. A teenager coming to the pair's aid is also bitten.

March 17, 1998|CLAIRE VITUCCI and MARTHA L. WILLMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

PACOIMA — A pit bull that escaped from a fenced yard attacked three people Monday, including a 6-year-old boy and his 83-year-old baby sitter, authorities said.

Two of the injured people were listed in fair condition in area hospitals late Monday, and were scheduled to undergo surgery on multiple puncture wounds.

The 80-pound pit bull, named Butch, reportedly was running loose in the 13400 block of Desmond Street about 4:15 p.m. when it attacked the boy, who was walking on the sidewalk with his baby sitter, said city Fire Department spokesman Bob Collis.

The baby sitter, Guadalupe Molina, and Erick Navarro were on their way back to Molina's house from nearby Vaughn Street Elementary School. Jeannette Figueroa, the dog's owner, said she was in the yard when Molina and Erick walked past. She called for the dog to come back, but it ran up to the boy.

Figueroa said Butch had never attacked anyone, but she warned the boy and the elderly woman not to move.

Erick, however, was frightened and began to inch away, Figueroa said.

"He attacked the boy for being too scared," Figueroa said. "I didn't mean for it to happen. It wasn't my fault."

After Butch bit the boy, the dog ran across the street and was momentarily corralled by neighbors, Figueroa said. But he broke free and ran after Molina and Erick.

In a panic, Molina and a few neighbors put the boy on the roof of a car. Butch then bit Molina, who was standing next to the car.

"The old lady was holding the boy, she was crying," said neighbor Victor Panos, 16. "The boy was bleeding all over his face."

Panos grabbed the dog by its jowls and wrenched him off Molina. The dog broke free and bit Panos before running off.

When the pit bull stopped to bark at other dogs, Figueroa was able to leash him and take him back to her house.

Erick was flown by helicopter to Childrens Hospital in Los Angeles, where he was treated for 10 to 12 bites to the face, neck and back of the head, said hospital spokesman Steve Rutledge.

Molina was taken to Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, with wounds to her right forearm, left thigh and buttocks, Collis said. Her condition was still being evaluated late Monday, said Richie Steinborn, nursing supervisor.

Teeth marks were visible on Victor's right calf as he spoke at the scene. He said he intended to go to the hospital Monday night to have his injuries examined.

The brown male American Staffordshire terrier, commonly called a pit bull, is in quarantine at the East Valley Animal Shelter, where he is being observed for any signs of rabies, said Linda Gordon, spokeswoman for the city Department of Animal Services.

Gordon said there was "no indication" that the dog, which is about a year old, had been trained for fighting. "It does not have its ears cropped, nor are there any marks on the dog other than what it took to break off the attack," Gordon said.

She said the department is continuing an investigation to determine whether criminal charges will be filed against the owners, and whether an administrative hearing will be conducted "to determine if the dog is dangerous or can be returned to its owners."

Figueroa said she has owned pit bulls for the past 10 years and none has ever attacked anyone. She said she always ties up her two pit bulls, but let Butch run free in the yard to get some exercise.

Butch became aggressive, she said, because her cousin had been playing with him just before the attack and teased him.

"He was too riled up," Figueroa said.

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