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Mayor May Try to Ban Pit Bulls

San Francisco's Newsom offers the proposal after the fatal dog mauling of a 12-year-old boy.

June 06, 2005|From Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Mayor Gavin Newsom, who will meet today with animal control officials to discuss what steps to take in the wake of a fatal dog mauling of a 12-year-old boy, indicated Sunday that he'll propose a ban on pit bulls in the city.

Newsom outlined his position two days after sixth-grader Nicholas Faibish was viciously attacked in his Sunset district home by one or both of his family's pit bulls.

"We have to be realistic," Newsom said. "You've got dogs that literally can kill. We've seen it demonstrated.

"If we can't change people's behavior and make them think what's in their best interest, then that's when government comes along and becomes a bit paternalistic."

Newsom said he would meet with animal control officials to go over the Faibish case, as well as other dog attacks in the city, including the mauling death of 33-year-old Diane Whipple by two Presa Canario dogs four years ago, and to discuss possible actions to take to prevent future attacks.

Authorities, meanwhile, were examining the dogs in attempting to reconstruct what went so horribly wrong in the Faibish home, where the boy was found by his mother covered with blood from multiple wounds Friday afternoon. Officials are still uncertain about whether both dogs were involved in the attack.

Investigators conducted an examination of the body of the female pit bull, Ella, who was shot dead by a police officer as he entered the home. The second dog, Rex, was examined at the shelter where the 80-pound dog is being held.

Blood was found on Rex's fur, but a spokeswoman for Animal Care and Control declined to disclose any other details. More tests are scheduled today.

The incident has rattled San Francisco dog owners. Animal Care and Control spokeswoman Deb Campbell said several people arrived at the shelter Saturday to drop off their pit bulls.

"The pit bulls that killed the boy were described as friendly," Campbell said, "and people start looking at their friendly dog and asking if it could do the same thing."

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