Fort Worth

December 3, 2013

Owners sought after dogs maul Fort Worth man, 45

The dogs were fatally shot after they turned on the man, who was trying to rescue his own dog.

A 45-year-old Diamond Hill man was seriously injured Tuesday while trying to rescue his dog from an attack by three dogs, police said.

Animal control investigators were going door to door in search of the attacking dogs’ owners.

The man, who was not identified, was taken to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth with “serious bites,” said Matt Zavadsky, a spokesman for MedStar, which provides ambulance service to the city.

Police said he suffered “several severe bite wounds that were bleeding heavily” when officers arrived. They found him on the ground and unable to defend himself because of the severity of his wounds. His condition was unavailable Tuesday.

His 26-year-old daughter was also injured trying to help, police said. Their dog, a young boxer mastiff mix named Angelica, fled.

The man and his two daughters had gone in search of Angelica and found her under attack by three pit bull mixes at about 12:15 a.m., police said. A 911 caller told police that a dog was killing a man outside, police said.

At least two of the attacking dogs were fatally shot as they ran toward a police officer in the “backyard area” of a house in the 3300 block of North Crump Street, police said.

A third pit bull mix was later found dead several blocks away, said Brandon Bennett, the city’s code compliance director. It was not immediately clear whether that dog was involved in the attack.

The victim’s wife said she had never seen them before, said Bennett, who oversees the animal care and control division.

The neighborhood is between the Stockyards and Meacham Airport. Bennett said animal control officers have conducted three sweeps for strays in the area over the past month.

Officers have picked up 678 stray dogs this year in the adjacent ZIP codes of 76106 and 76164, an area roughly northwest of downtown Fort Worth, records show. Seventy of them were rounded up in November alone.

“What it means is, a lot of strays are getting picked up and the owners are going back out and getting more dogs,” Bennett said.

The dogs in Tuesday’s attack were not wearing collars or tags. But, based on their physical condition, animal control officers believe that they had an owner, Bennett said.

“They appear to be well-watered, well-fed, well-groomed,” he said. “There are other signs that some owner was taking care of them. “

Fort Worth animal control has received 1,368 reports of dog bites so far this year.

In the past three years, the top five breeds accused of bites are:

• Terrier pit bull, 522
• German shepherd, 273
• Labrador retriever, 203
• Chihuahua, 180
• Terrier, 148

Officials say aggressive attacks are rare. When they do occur, Bennett said, there are often mitigating circumstances.

“It can often be traced back to an irresponsible pet owner,” he said. “Were they raised to be aggressive? Were they raised with human contact or were they tied to a chain?”

If an attack occurs, officials advise pet owners not to intervene. Owners might assume that they can break up the attack, but the animals will simply shift their aggression.

“Our recommendation is, you dial 911, get police and get animal control out there,” Bennett said. “But I understand it’s very hard to act on that recommendation.”

The pit bulls shot by police will be tested for rabies.

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