Pit bull mauls a 5-year-old boy

May 29, 2008

A pit bull on Wednesday burrowed under a fence and mauled a 5-year-old boy in his backyard, according to the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.

The attack in Cimarron Hills east of Colorado Springs severely injured the child's face and neck and involved a young dog that neighbors blame for at least three recent attacks on pets, two of them fatal.

The child, who was flown to a Denver hospital on Wednesday night, received 2,000 stitches in two surgeries and will have to have his nose reconstructed, according to a woman who lives at the home where the attack occurred.

The pit bull's owner, Michael Brown, 20, was cited with ownership of a dangerous dog, a misdemeanor.

The boy's mother moved into the ranch house in the 1900 block of Chiricahua Drive in February, and the two single mothers split living expenses. Deputies did not release the boy's name.

"He'll be OK," the roommate said. "It's just lots and lots of surgery over lots and lots of years."

She spoke to The Gazette on the condition that her name and the name of the boy's mother not be used.

The boy was in a fenced-in backyard with one of two household dogs when the mauling occurred about 7 p.m., his mother's roommate said.

The pit bull, one of two dogs belonging to Brown, dug a hole under the fence between the properties and attacked the boy, said Lt. Lari Sevene, a spokeswoman for the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.

The boy's mother was near the back door but did not see the mauling, the roommate said.

"His face was bloody and his arm was all messed up," said Trisha McGee, a neighbor who went out to check on the sirens and saw the child being placed in the ambulance.

"He was screaming like bloody murder," said Dave Love, another witness to the attack's aftermath.

Mike Zink, who lives across the street, went into the backyard to offer help and found one of the dogs from the boy's home, which he said resembled a beagle.

"It was terrified, sitting in the corner," he said. "You could tell that it was traumatized, too."

Last fall, Love said he came outside to find what he believed to be the same pit bull attacking his 14-year-old cat, Pooka, in Love's driveway, inflicting fatal injuries.

"When I brought him to the gate, that's when I saw the other one" - another pet cat, Missy, lying dead near the dog's backyard with the same type of wounds that killed Pooka, he said. "I can't prove that he did it."

Love said that he made an anonymous complaint to the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region but didn't press the matter, except to warn the owner's mother, who was apologetic.

"I told her, now that he's got a taste for blood, I wouldn't trust him," he said.

McGee said the same pit bull got out of his owner's yard and "tore up" her 3-year-old blue heeler, Rosie, shortly after she moved to the neighborhood in September. She didn't report that attack, saying that she didn't want problems with her neighbors.

The pit bull, a 10-monthold named Tyson, was placed in the custody of the Humane Society, which is under contract to provide animal control in El Paso County.

The animal will be quarantined until a judge decides what should be done with it, said Ann Davenport, a Humane Society spokeswoman. It could be destroyed.

Brown is to appear in El Paso County Court on July 28.

Pit bulls and pit bull mixes have accounted for more dog bites than any other breed in El Paso County this year, Davenport said.

They were involved in 216 bites, about 18 percent of the 1,381 attacks reported. Labrador retrievers were second on the list, with 157 attacks, and German shepherds were third, with 93 bites, Davenport said.

CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0366 or lance.benzel@gazette.com

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