Project Pit Bull: Attacks drive controversy, debate

Project Pit Bull: Attacks drive controversy, debate

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Dog attacks have made headlines, leaving their victims with lasting injuries and lengthy recoveries. The most serious seem to have been linked to one type of dog, a pit bull.

Some say the dogs have gotten a bad rap, while others think it's justified

In September 2003, 2-year-old Issac Guerrero was rushed to Children's Hospital Central California in Madera after being mauled by his family's two pit bulls. Police say one dog had ahold of the child's head, and the other one had his feet.

Pit bulls are one of the most recognizable dogs in the world. Known for toughness and loyalty, the canine, whose roots began deep in the English culture, has become an American staple in many communities.

But prevalent ownership by gang members and dog-fighting rings, like the one that ultimately sent NFL star Michael Vick to prison, have cemented the pit bull's reputation as overly aggressive in many circles.

In November 2008, 3-year-old Sergio Reyes was attacked by his family's pit bull, Reggie.The dog had been tied up to a tree in the backyard when Sergio came in contact with it. The toddler had part of his face bitten off.

That same year, Lori Venters began calling for tougher "dangerous-dog laws" after her neighbor's pit bull came running towards her, knocking her down and mangling her pet Pomeranian.

Attacks on pets peaked with the savage mauling of Jane Cothern's dog, who was mauled by two pit bulls right in it's own backyard.

"They literally broke right through, forced into this small opening," Cothern recalled. The boxer/German shepherd mix named Doobie was so badly mutilated that the medical report listed bite marks as "too numerous to count."

For Cothern, it's a day eternally etched in her memory.

"She was covered from head to toe in blood," Cothern said. "She was so helpless."

It would be determined that Doobie had  been punctured 275 times by the pit bull teeth. A day-and-a-half later, Doobie was dead.

Cothern's anguish over the loss of her dog paled in comparison to the disdain she felt over her attacker's treatment.

"Animal control let him walk his two dogs from my backyard to his house," she said. The owner would later surrendered the dogs, and they were euthanized

Dr. Nate Cloar works in emergency medicine at Kern Medical Center. He points to how the pit bulls bite.

"They bite and they tear tissue away, so there can be muscles taken off bones along with broken bones, as well," Cloar said. "They do much more crushing damage."

That's a force Cothern would like to see contained or restricted all together.

"Their purpose was for the locking jaw system, they got for holding livestock for slaughter. They weren't meant to be a domesticated dog," Cothern contended.

What are your thoughts in this issue? Should pit bulls be banned? Sound off below or on the Eyewitness News-BakersfieldNow Facebook page.

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