Fatal dog attacks not common in Carson City

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Fatal dog attacks like the one last month, in which a crazed mother pit bull attacked three dogs, killing one, are extremely rare, records indicate.

Animal Services Supervisor Pat Wiggins said there were 45 reports of dogs biting other dogs in 2008, and he could recall only one fatality.

There were 122 reports of dogs biting people.

The District Attorney's Office is reviewing the case and may charge the pit bull's owner, Joseph Leonard, according to the police report.

On Dec. 30, the female pit bull crashed through the screen door of a home on Ballarat Drive and attacked the family pet.

The homeowner broke his hand while punching the pit bull until it let go of his dog. He then threw the pit outside. It apparently jumped a neighbor's fence and killed one dog before going after another. A 17-year-old boy was forced to stab the pit bull to death before police could arrive.

A test of the pit bull's remains found it was not diseased, Wiggins said.

The police report states that Leonard had left his dog in the backyard of his Sherman Lane home and was away at the time of the incident. He allegedly told police the pit bull had recently become aggressive after having puppies.

Wiggins said not being home when your animal is involved in such an incident is no defense to a charge of maintaining a vicious animal.

"Even if you're not home and your dog kills another dog, or attacks a person or attacks another dog, it's still your responsibility. You will be hit with fines and possibly jail time," he said.

Despite the breed's frightening image, Wiggins said statistics on pit bull attacks are skewed because people don't always report attacks by other breeds. Someone bitten by a Chihuahua, for example, is less likely to call it in.

"If I had a dime every time someone has called me and said, ''I usually wouldn't call and complain, but it is a pit bull,' then I would be a much richer man," he said.

Of the 3,400 calls the department received last year, dog bites made up only 5 percent of the workload.

Records show that Animal Services impounded 1,000 dogs and euthanized 29 for being aggressive.

All dogs involved in biting a human are quarantined for 10 days and then released to the owner. Depending on the circumstances, some people are given a citation to appear in court, said Wiggins.

"The dog owner is the responsible party and should make sure that their dog is safe to be around other people and pets," he said.


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