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Dog Attacks Officer as News Camera Rolls

June 23, 1987

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ As a news camera rolled, a pit bull dog burst through a screen door and attacked an animal control officer, clamping its jaws onto her hand and crushing the bone, authorities said.

Officer Florence Crowell was bitten Monday while investigating a report that the dog earlier attacked a 7-year-old girl and her father.

The attack was recorded by a KCBS-TV news crew, which accompanied the officer for a story on pit bull terriers.

″He only wanted to protect me,″ said the dog’s owner, Joy Hauser. ″Now they want to kill my baby for that.″

Ms. Crowell, 33, was reported in satisfactory condition today at Glendale Memorial Hospital, where she was treated for bites to both hands, wrists and chest, said a nursing supervisor. The officer did not require surgery.

″She actually had a bone crushed in her right hand,″ said Linda Gordon, spokeswoman for the city Department of Animal Regulation.

According to Ms. Gordon, the dog burst through a screen door as Ms. Crowell approached Miss Hauser’s home and took the officer’s hand in its jaws, Ms. Gordon said.

Miss Hauser tried to call her dog off, but the screams and struggle only prompted the dog to hold on until a neighbor struck it with a stick. KCBS photographer Don Menzel also tried to pull the dog off.

″I did not sic Benjamin on her,″ Miss Hauser said. ″She (the control officer) was standing at the edge of the driveway, crunched over and waving a stick. I told her that she better be careful because Benjamin would attack if she kept waving a stick.″

A rash of reports of pit-bull attacks has brought calls in some California communities to ban the breed.

On June 14, a pit bull killed a toddler in Morgan Hill. The dog’s owner is charged with involuntary manslaughter under a law making it a felony to own an animal that kills someone.

On Thursday, a Los Angeles police officer was attacked in Highland Park when a pit bull snapped its chain and lunged at him.

Miss Hauser’s dog was impounded, and the department will seek a court order for it to be destroyed, Ms. Gordon said. The case was being referred to the district attorney’s office for possible prosecution, she said.

Neighbor Juan Volpe had alerted authorities after he and his 7-year-old daughter, Brisa, were allegedly attacked and bitten by the dog late Sunday, Ms. Gordon said. Both were treated at a hospital and released.

″I agree this was a terrible thing, and I can’t tell you how sorry I am that this happened. But I’ve raised Benjamin since the day he was born,″ Miss Hauser said, pointing to a blanket she wrapped him in every night. ″He’s all I have, and now they’re going to kill him.″

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