Fresno Pit Bulls have a History of Violence

July 17, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Neighbors say the dogs that attacked a Fresno mail carrier on Monday should have been removed from the neighborhood long before that attack because of Tyler's Law.The law is named for a 6-year-old boy from Fresno County, killed in a dog mauling after those dogs had previously been reported as vicious. It's designed to stop dogs from attacking more than once.

A carefree run across the front lawn kept Savannah and Olivia Perez busy Wednesday night, but their grandmother worries they could just as easily be running away from vicious dogs in the neighborhood.

Just three blocks away, a pack of pit bulls carried out a series of attacks, starting by intimidating a neighbor earlier this month. "77 years old," said the girls' grandmother, Dee Barnes. "I think she's partially blind. They had attacked her. They didn't actually bite her. She had a cane and she fended them off. She was yelling for help and somebody came out and helped chase the dogs off."

Fresno police, Fresno county sheriff's deputies, and the SPCA all responded to that attack. Ten days later, the same dogs killed a neighbor's puppy, which brought a sheriff's deputy and an SPCA officer out to the house. Deputies said the SPCA was ready to seize the dogs until the owner locked himself in the house.

Those are also the dogs that attacked a postal carrier on Monday. "If it had been my 5- or 7-year-old granddaughter or the elderly blind lady, it would've been really bad," said Barnes. "There could've been a fatality."

Chrystal Babcock said history is repeating itself, despite the law she pushed so hard to pass.

Dogs killed her son Tyler three years ago, and the same dogs had caused problems in the neighborhood before, but there was some dispute about who was supposed to take care of the problem: the Sheriff's Department or the SPCA. "My son should've never died," she said. "These situations should be taken care of immediately."

Babcock lobbied politicians until Fresno County passed Tyler's law. It was supposed to resolve issues of jurisdiction and get everybody on the same page. That's why the failure to stop these attacks in Mayfair frustrates her. "Because it shouldn't happen," she said. "Why did we change the laws if they're still not working?"

Two of the dogs involved in the attacks were euthanized by the SPCA Wednesday. Investigators can't find the other two.

Agencies involved say following up on these attacks is tough because of low staffing.


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