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Tragic Story--family pet (Pit Bull) kills 12 year old boy

1929 Views 89 Replies 41 Participants Last post by  polka123
This is such a sad story that happen in San Francisco. It especially touches me because I have a friend that knows this family--they had two pit bulls who were with this family since they were pups. This family is very loving and raised these dogs to be loving family pets. The boy's mom went out to the store and came home to find her son had been killed by one of their pit bulls. Here is the story:
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Wow, that is so sad
I wonder what happened to make the dogs go off like that.
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The neighbor on the other side of our fence has two pitbulls. I'm scared to death they might find their way into my yard someday. They seem very well trained and never rush up to the fence, but there is a kid who is there sometimes and I saw him digging a hole under our shared fence with a shovel one day!! I stick two big planters on top of the area so hopefully I won't have pitbulls over here any time soon.
It's amazing to think that those dogs would kill their 12 yr old family member.
This was an awful story! My sisters both have pitbulls and they are very loving dogs. I believe it is the way they are raised and trained.
That is very sad. We owned a pit when I was a child. But, I would NEVER own a pit now that I have children of my own. They are to unpredictable no matter how they were/are raised (IMO).
So sad.


Originally Posted by lisap
I believe it is the way they are raised and trained.

I have to say I disagree with this. Sounds to me like this family loved those dogs and treated them well.
I wonder why one of the dogs was in protective custody a year ago... and why the neighbor kid said the dogs were "sometimes nice, sometimes mean".

It is very sad...

I can't even imagine. What a horrible thing to happen. His mother must be beyond grief.

I have 2 Pit Bulls. They're 11 and 13 years old, and I've had them since they were puppies. They've never shown any aggression to any person. No, that's not strong enough: they are the most people-lovin' dogs I've ever known. They've never met a stranger, and they sure wouldn't hurt a member of this family.

From the article, it really sounds like the family in San Francisco treated theirs well and there was no indication that something like this would happen. But I have to say, with what I know as a veterinary nurse and professional petsitter, there must be more to the story. Dogs don't just "snap" and have a complete reversal of personality one day, although urban legend would have you believe otherwise. In hindsight there are always warning signs. It makes me sad that other families in SF are now turning their Pit Bulls in to local shelters out of fear that their pets will "turn" on them. I still trust mine.
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That's so sad, but Kristi, I have to disagree, some dog do just "snap" and loose it. I'm a dog trainer and a behaviorist and I'm also a RVT. I've seen it happen. Friends of mine had a pit bull, the dog was an awesome family pet, he'd done TONS of training with the dog and I can assure you it was very well cared for and certainly never abused or any of the other reasons people site for such attacks.
On night my friend was making dinner in the kitchen when Rosco came in. He begged a bit for food and she told him to go lay down. He then latched on to her leg and essentially tore her calf muscle clean off, when she was pushing him away he bit her arm, it was broken in 8 places, he got her on the ground and went for her face, her husband was in the back yard, he came in and kicked Rosco off his wife, the dog then went after him, he ended up stabbing him with a kitchen knife. In total his wife had 468 stiches and the husband had 61. This dog had been curled up with their 4 yr old on the couch minutes before the attack and had never shown any aggresion to any human or animal before the attack. I've heard this a number of times regarding pits and while I only saw one of the families raise the dog from puppyhood so I could say without a doubt it had been raised properly, I don't always doubt them.

The primary problem where pit bulls are concerned is how much damage they can do in a short time, the pressure behind their bite is significantly stronger than any other dog.
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Originally Posted by mum2a&a
So sad.

I have to say I disagree with this. Sounds to me like this family loved those dogs and treated them well.

Yes--they were absolutely not trained to fight and were raised as family pets. These dogs lived right by where I once lived in San Francisco--it is ninth avenue near Golden Gate Park. A very beautiful area of the city. My friend who knows the family says that they were very loved pets--often sleeping with the family and the boy was especially close with them.

From what I heard on the news today, the family was planning to move to Oregon within a few days, and there were boxes all over the apartment. They think that maybe the apartment being almost empty (with just boxes and the beds left) may have scared the dogs and caused them to act out. Also, the dogs were NOT fixed--and the female was in heat. It could have been the male was acting very aggresively with the female in heat and that caused the dog to snap.
The problem with pit bulls is that if this had been a pair of--say, Golden Retrievers---they may have been also disturbed by the move, and in heat or whateverer---but the outcome would not be the same. That boy would be alive today. Obviously other breeds do attack or bite, but the outcome of a pit bull attack is MUCH more serious and/or deadly.
I don't think we know all of the facts of the story, but if neither was fixed and the female was in heat that is CERTAINLY a mitigating circumstance.

I don't know why you would have two dogs that are not fixed, one male and one female, and have them live together. Do I misunderstand? What do you do when the female is in heat? You can't breed them every time.

Also, the boy involved could have teased or angered the dog in some way. Boys (kids) of that age, even well-meaning and loving ones, can be very antagonistic without even meaning to, or without fully realizing what they're doing.

So, I guess it's possible that this dog just snapped and the situation came out of nowhere, but I tend to think that doesn't happen very frequently and there were probably signs the family didn't understand.

Originally Posted by Lula's Mom
Dogs don't just "snap" and have a complete reversal of personality one day, although urban legend would have you believe otherwise. In hindsight there are always warning signs.
I wouldn't call it urban legend, but I also wouldn't call it snapping and undergoing a complete personality reversal. That seems like you are putting a human value on a dog. Dogs are animals with hard wired instincts, and we fit into their concept of a pack. They are a social animals and their expectations and way they see the world probably meshes with human's more often than not. Probably things changed in the world and the hierarchy of the dog that made sense to him to act like that. My feeling after reading about the dog that tore the woman's calf off was that he was hungry and decided to challenge the person above him in the pack.

I think a lot of it has been bred out, but not all, and maybe it is more prevalent in some species. Stephen Jay Gould says a lot of what we've bred into our modern breeds is a more puppy like behavior. But then maybe I'm just putting human observations about dog behavior a dog, and I don't know anything because I'm not a dog. Oh well, in any event, that is damn sad. Wish I could reword this so it sounded more intelligent, but I'm going to see Star Wars III now.
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But that is exactly what I'm saying, Viola. If accounts of them being family pets with a perfect record of behavior are true, as well as in shannon's story, then the dog did undergo a reversal of personality. I don't think it's ascribing human traits to an animal to call it a personality, but that could just be me. I believe each animal has a distinct individual personality, as well as broader instincts that dogs in general possess.

I am well versed in animal behavior, so I do understand the pack mentality. I've seen it in practice many times. I use it to my advantage in my home with my dogs. All humans in my home, regardless of age, are above the dogs. I've never seen them challenge that. That's what I meant when I said that there are typically warning signs before an attack happens. Then everyone says "But it was always so sweet! We had no idea!" Except for the fact that there are little challenges before the bite... there's growling or nipping when someone comes near the food, or tells the dog to get off the couch, etc. And then the tragedy happens.

Shannon, I respect your experience and I'll stop short of saying I don't believe your friend's story. If you say the dog was trained and had never tried to challenge its owner in any way, shape or form before it suddenly ripped her leg, arm and face apart, I'll have to say that it's just one of those things I've never heard of but nothing is impossible.

I completely agree that when Pit Bulls bite, it's going to be bad. I believe that Pit Bulls and Rottweilers are responsible for half of the deaths in fatal dog attacks. However, they bite less frequently than other dogs. When bred and raised correctly, they are extremely stable dogs. It gets reported more often because it is invariably a severe injury, where other breeds may not cause so much damage. I'm pretty sure that boys about this victim's age are the most frequently bitten, and that intact male dogs are the most likely to bite.
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I think the issue is that some people don't read the small cues well that dogs give before a bad bite or an attack.

I had an english mastiff for a short time. She was about 7 years old and had never been well socialized. She gave *very* subtle cues to my then 5 year-old son that she didn't like him very well. often she tolerated his playfulness, and ocassionally seemed to really enjoy him.

Other times she would give him a subtle look. Eventually she started growling softly at him. One time she bit him without leaving a mark. A couple weeks later she attacked him. Thankfully I was right there and was able to get her away from him. She had jumped on him and had his entire head in her mouth. She left several small marks on his head and face. It could have been tragic, but thankfully he was virtually unharmed. He wasn't even scared of her afterwards

I really think young boys are the worst at reading the signals a dog gives. I believe its possible for a dog to just snap, but I really think its more likely for a person to not read their subtle cues.

FTR - We had our mastiff evaluated and it turned out she likely had something very amiss and it was best that she be destroyed. It was a long thought out process we went through during which she was *never* in the same room with my son. We fed her steak and she died in my husbands arms
I really miss her, but the safety of others over rode all else.
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Lindsay, yes, that is the kind of thing I meant. You noticed the cues, but many dog owners don't or aren't there when they escalate, and so are totally shocked when the dog bites. Your son may well have been killed if you hadn't been there. You probably had a heightened awareness of their interactions because you had seen her giving him cues before. If it had been someone else's dog, and they didn't notice the escalating problem, they would probably say the dog "snapped" and attacked the child out of nowhere.

ETA: I'm sorry. I know it must have been hard to lose her, even after what happened.
I think Kristi what Viola was getting at is that isn't a personality reversal because those inate drives and aspects of a dogs personality have always been there--there just may have never been occasion to see that aspect of the dog's personality. It's like when people say they went to obedience training but it made their dog viscious--generally what really happened is that they had simply never actually MADE the dog do anything in the past--therefore they'd never had opportunity to see that side of the dog's temperment. They then go home and happily live in denial, never actually challenging Fido to do anything. Therefore, even if it had never been seen before it doesn't mean it's a reversal of personality. I also don't believe dog's just suddenly change their temperment or personality (with the exception of dog's with brain tumors) however, I firmly believe that the average dog owner only knows a small fraction of their dog's character.
ANY DOG WILL BITE, most people are just lucky that their own dogs are never placed in the situation that would cause them to do so. No dog is bomb proof. The biggest mistake any dog owner can make is to assume their dog "would never do that" because like Viola said, they're dogs, they don't think like people--even when we want them to. You can never say that every human is above your dog at all times because you NEVER know when that dog may decide to challenge his place in the pack--many dogs never do, but that doesn't mean it can't/won't happen.
In the case of pit bulls, the scary aspect is that few other animals would continue to fight to the lengths and degrees that a pit will. I don't care how much the 12 yr old was teasing the dogs--but honestly I'm guessing if he was, it wasn't anything he hadn't done before--my guess is he may have tried to separate the 2 dogs and been caught in the middle--98% of other breeds of dogs would never take it that far-sure there may be a bite, there may even be a couple bites, but not a mom coming home to a dead child on the bedroom floor. There is a reason pits are not used in police work--yes they can be taught to bite on command and frankly, the ones I've worked have even been really good tracking dogs--however, when they go off, something snapps in their head that makes them deaf to any sort of command--sort of like a beagle who gets off leash--no matter how well he's trained-the nose goes down and the ears turn off.

You can believe me that the owners story is in fact true (actually I really don't care what you believe) I saw the dog raised, I helped the family train him. I can honestly say they had a nicer working obedience dog than I had. I know how the dog was cared for. The owners were devastated--they used to be the type who said "it's all how you raise them"
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I have a pit, and it saddens me every time that I read something like this. Seems like the news only picks up on pitbull attacks. Poor family.

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No dog is bomb proof. The biggest mistake any dog owner can make is to assume their dog "would never do that" because like Viola said, they're dogs, they don't think like people--even when we want them to. You can never say that every human is above your dog at all times because you NEVER know when that dog may decide to challenge his place in the pack--many dogs never do, but that doesn't mean it can't/won't happen.
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I cant read the story posted. Knowing it happened and some of the main points is enough. How terrible. That poor sad family

I've read through the posts about the pit-bull behavior and different views, I've also read past threads, and my own rabbits were killed just over a year ago by one. Usually, when i see one on the street being walked i may pet it. But now, I think not. Who want's to take the chance? I dont mean to be paranoid and understand these dogs CAN be sweet but the flip side is beyond rational. --goiing further past the amount of control one needs to have when in relation to such power.
Does that make sense? Thats all im getting out of this right now.
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