Woman recovering after pit bull attack in Riverside

Michael Cizek/AFP/Getty Images

A woman has been hospitalized after she was attacked and mauled by two dogs in downtown Riverside Monday, according to Riverside County Department of Animal Services.

Spokesman John Welsh told KPCC  the woman was out walking her dog when she was attacked by two pit bulls who had apparently escaped their enclosure. She was bit in the face and the arm, Welsh said. The injuries didn't appear to be life-threatening.

"Here was a lady minding her business and walking her dog," he said. "And these dogs from this one particular home got out somehow. They're probably going after her small pet and not after her. She tries to protect her pet by probably picking it up, and she gets the brunt of the attack."

The woman, who the Press-Enterprise reported was between 40 and 50 years old, was being treated for "very severe" dog bites.

The Press-Enterprise spoke with witness Terry Fury: 

“I was drinking coffee and I heard hellacious screaming,” Fury said in a phone interview. “At first I thought it might have been one of the kids across the street. But then it continued for five seconds and I went to the front door … and I could see two pit bulls on this lady, and she was lying on the curb.”

Both dogs were non-neutered male pit bulls — one 2 years and the other 4 months old. "And of course when they're unaltered, they have a propensity of wanting to go after other dogs," Welsh said.

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He said it wasn't clear how the two dogs escaped from the fenced yard. He said it didn't appear that the fence had been broken.

"The owner of the pit bulls was very sad," Welsh said. "And when he found out about the attack, he turned the dogs over to us for humane euthanasia."

The incident follows several other recent dog attacks that have raised questions about owners' responsibilities for their dogs.

Welsh said he plans to push for a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance for pit bulls in Riverside County in the fall, similar to that of San Bernardino County. 

"Our organization is not pro-pit bull or anti-pit bull," he said. "We just want to stop having to euthanize all these pit bulls, when a lot of them are actually pretty adoptable."

KPCC will be hosting a discussion Thursday in the Crawford Family Forum on dog breeds and owner responsibility. It will be live-streamed on KPCC.org.