UNION CITY, Calif. (KGO) — The mother of a Union City boy that was mauled to death by the family pit bull has spoken out publically for the first time and says her son and the dog were best friends.
The tragic accident raised questions and it placed the boy’s extended family in the public eye. His mother and father are still shocked and in mourning, but they want people to know how precious their son was and to convey a message to people with pets that no matter how much they’re part of the family, they’re still animals and as such, they are unpredictable.
A small altar next to the family’s front door shows a picture of 6-year-old Nephi Selu proudly holding his diploma. He had just graduated from kindergarten last week. Nephi came from a close-knit and religious family. He had many uncles, aunts, and cousins.
The boy was Tilema Selu’s only child. “If you came in, he’d run and give you a hug. He was very welcoming, just a very loving boy,” his mother said.
“Anywhere we took him, same thing, happy, loved to be around family, full of life,” said his aunt,” Iona Keanaaina.
On Monday, as Nephi was playing in the backyard with his cousins, the pit bull attacked him. They said he had been riding the dog like a horse when it suddenly threw him down and bit him on the head.
“Stop, stop, stop, please stop,” one of his cousins recalled saying. “I was trying to pull him from the stomach, like grab him off.”
“I was trying to grab his leash and pull him away,” another cousin said.
“And then we went inside and said a little prayer, and then my dad came down and got his hand and put it in the dog’s mouth, and he released,” the first cousin continued.
Nephi died later at Stanford Hospital.
His mother says Nephi was especially close to the dog. “All of this is definitely a shock because it’s almost like two best friends that turned on… like one best friend turned on the other,” she said. “He had no signs of being hostile. In fact, we felt confident that it was a protector of our children.”
Kelala Keanaaina, a San Mateo police officer, is the boy’s uncle. He bought the dog two years ago. “We brought the dog into our home as a pet to help protect life and to help watch over, and by no means did we know that he was going to take life,” he said.
Police put the dog to sleep Wednesday. Nephi’s funeral will be next week.
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American Pit Bull Terrier
*The APBT is of medium intelligence, and it is athletic. They have plenty of energy and exuberance for life. They are affectionate companions are often referred to as a “nanny dog”, which leads many families to believe that they are suitable companions for children. Many can live happily with children and never have an issue, but there are many cases of the family pit bull suddenly attacking or killing a child in the household. The Pit Bull advocacy group Bad Rap recently retracted their original “nanny dog” statements
POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS DOG BREEDS
This is a list of dog breeds that have a history of being potentially dangerous to people, especially children. Daxton’s Friends for Canine Education and Awareness understands that any dog has the ability to bite or inflict serious harm to humans. This list consists of several dog breeds that have a higher than average number of recorded human fatalities. Please use extreme caution if you choose to bring one of these breeds into your home. Rental communities and homeowners insurance may restrict many of the dog breeds on this list due to the likelihood of a serious incident.
Pit Bulls, Mastiff, and Rottweiler lead in fatalities and are listed first. The rest of the breeds are listed in alphabetical order:
Pit Bull Terrier Family
- American Bulldog
- American Pit Bull Terrier
- American Staffordshire Terrier
- English/Standard Bull Terrier
- Miniature Bull Terrier
- Olde English Bulldog
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
- Cane Corso/Italian Mastiff
- Dogo Argentino
- English Mastiff
- Fila Brasileiro
- Dogue de Bordeaux/French Mastiff
- Great Dane/German Mastiff
- Presa Canario
- St. Bernard/Alpine Mastiff