Modesto man, 54, dies after pit bull mauling
Mother, son attacked by dogs identified
A man who was mauled along with his 77-year-old mother by four pit bulls at a southwest Modesto home has died.
The 54-year-old man, identified Wednesday as Juan Fernandez, died of multiple traumatic injuries from Tuesday’s attack, sheriff’s officials said.
Juan Fernandez’s mother, Maria Fernandez, remains in critical condition at Doctors Medical Center.
Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson said the dogs were owned by the victims’ neighbors and got into the victims’ yard by digging a hole under a common fence.
Modesto mother, son injured after pit bull mauling
Pack of pit bulls mauls seniors in Modesto home
By Kale Williams – Updated 9:13 am, Wednesday, October 15, 2014
An elderly man and woman were mauled and left in critical condition by a pack of pit bulls Tuesday evening in Modesto, officials said.
Deputies shot and killed two of the dogs and the other two fled to a neighboring backyard. The victim was rushed to a waiting ambulance and officers searched the house, where they found an elderly woman, who had also been attacked by the dogs and was suffering from critical injuries, Christianson said.
OUR VIEW: Pit bulls can be deadly; hold owners accountable
If the law makes it difficult to bring charges, then we must change the law
A full-grown pit bull weighs around 75 pounds. With four of them you get 300 pounds of muscle, jaws and teeth perfect for tearing into flesh.
Against 300 pounds of pit bull, the two people attacked in their own yard on Oct. 14 – an elderly woman and her middle-aged son – never had a chance. That the woman survived was miraculous. Her son wasn’t so lucky.
A tragedy. Sad. Awful.
But was it criminal? We think it was, and we believe charges should be brought against the animals’ owners. Though it’s legal to own four dogs, anyone who owns four potential killers must know the constant threat.
“Four pit bulls equal danger,” said attorney Kenneth M. Phillips, the leading California attorney in dog-bite cases. “When you have a dangerous condition, you have to take steps to correct it.”
More than two weeks after the attack, no criminal charges have been brought.
Though outraged, Sheriff Adam Christianson says he’s not sure the owners can be successfully prosecuted. Unless the homeowner was negligent in letting the dogs escape; unless the dogs were documented nuisances or dangerous; unless they were intentionally made vicious, Christianson says it will be hard to bring charges.
2014 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bulls Kill Modesto Man, Critically Injure Another
Survivor Recounts Attack
UPDATE 11/04/14: Maria Fernandez, 77, was initially treated in an intensive care unit for multiple traumatic injuries after four pit bulls belonging to her next-door neighbor viciously attacked her and her son. Maria is now recovering at Evergreen Nursing and Rehabilitation Care. Among other injuries, both of her hands were broken during the attack and her right leg was broken below the knee. Her son, Juan Fernandez, 54, suffered so many critical injuries that he did not survive.
The ‘bull and terrier’ type was originally developed in England in the early 19th century. The lineage goes back to the mastiff / molosser types, including what we now call the Olde English Bulldogge, that were used for bear-, bull- and horse-baiting from the 12ththrough the 18th century. This isn’t the bear-baiting we think of today, when hunters feed bears in order to bring them out in the open to shoot them. Rather, the bear, bull or horse was confined in a public arena where the mastiff ‘bulldogs’ would slowly tear them apart alive for the public’s amusement1,2,3,4,5.
The popularity of this ‘sport’ declined as education became more emphasized in urban society of the Industrial Revolution and literacy among the population grew (from about 30% in the 17th century to 62% by 1800)6. The ‘sport’ was banned altogether by Act of Parliament in 1835.
The lovers of blood ‘sports’ turned to dogfighting to satisfy their fancy, breeding the large, mastiff-type bulldogs to smaller working terriers to get dogs both smaller and more agile, easier to keep and to hide, but just as willing to attack and fight to the death. With the rise of the kennel clubs and the desire to distinguish dogs by looks and pedigree as well as by performance, this ‘bull and terrier’ type eventually divided into many official breeds. They all share the same ancestry and function, distinguishing themselves mostly by slight differences in appearance.