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TOP SECRET ANIMAL ATTACK FILES
from San Francisco Chronicle
mauls boy, 11, near Placerville
Monday, April 22, 2002
Elizabeth Bell, Heather Knight, Chronicle Staff Writers
An 11-year-old boy became the third Northern California child in a week to be viciously mauled by a dog when his neighbor's unleashed pit bull attacked him.
The El Dorado County boy had gone to knock at the door of his neighbor -- a woman who works with a veterinarian -- on Saturday night to ask for advice on how to treat his limping dog when the attack occurred in front of the house, police said.
The boy, who police identified as Brian Keates, was in stable condition after undergoing extensive surgery yesterday at Marshall Hospital in Placerville. Police said the boy received hundreds of stitches, but hospital staff would not release information because he is a minor.
Neighbors on Rose Court in the community of Pollock Pines east of Placerville had complained to animal control officers eight different times about the pit bull chasing children, according to El Dorado County Sheriff's Lt. Kevin House. House identified one of the dog owners as Jillian Figueroa, a veterinary hospital worker.
Animal control officers had been preparing to call the owners in for a hearing when Saturday's attack occurred. The dog was later shot to death by an animal control officer. The dog owners were apparently out of town for the weekend and had not yet been contacted by authorities as of late yesterday.
Patrick Bowdoin, 52, a neighbor, said the dog often roamed the streets and had frightened many people in the area. It charged at Bowdoin's car one morning a few weeks ago and lunged at a girl on a bicycle soon thereafter. Bowdoin said he told the dog's owners he would shoot the animal if it caused more trouble. He said he also informed animal control officers of the potential danger weeks ago.
"We're pretty upset about this because somebody should have done something about this dog long before it attacked a child," Bowdoin said. "It was a bomb waiting to go off."
The dog apparently had been left in an unfenced side yard, where it was restrained with a cable, police said. But the dog managed to wriggle free of his collar, police said.
House said even if the dog had not gotten free, it was an unsafe place to leave it because a small child could have approached the dog.
Sheriff's officials have forwarded the case to the district attorney's office for possible felony prosecution on charges of failing to control a mischievous animal.
"Pit bulls were bred to attack and I'm just baffled that people would have them as pets and expect they would be normal because they're just not," said House.
The boy went to the neighbor's house around 8:30 Saturday. He did not bring his dog with him.
As the boy approached the front door, he heard the pit bull growling at him from the side of the house, House said. He ran and the pit bull chased him. The dog bit into his leg, fiercely shaking its head back and forth, then proceeded to bite the boy's back and head, said House.
The boy's mother, Carol Keates, heard him screaming and ran to help, police said. She kicked the dog numerous times until the dog opened its jaws and released the boy, said House. When she lifted her son to carry him home, the dog jumped up and began attacking the boy again. The mother kicked the dog again and brought the boy into her house to call 911.
An animal control officer found the dog roaming near the house and shot him to death.
Saturday's incident was the third dog attack on a child in Northern California since Thursday.
On Friday evening, two rottweilers, reportedly startled by a lizard, attacked and killed 5-year-old Victoria Morales of Monterey as she was walking the dogs -- family pets -- with her grandmother and 9-year-old brother.
The Monterey mauling occurred less than 24 hours after a 5-year-old Salinas girl was seriously wounded by her family's Doberman pinscher.
That girl was attacked shortly after 8 p.m. Thursday at her home, Salinas police said.
©2002 San Francisco Chronicle
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