Third aggressive pit bull call in 2 weeks in Havasu

May 9, 2019

A Lake Havasu City woman contacted police Sunday after her Chihuahua was attacked by a pit bull in her relative’s home. It was the third such attack by a pit bull – against human or another pet – within a span of 10 days.

However, Havasu police caution that pit bulls aren’t any more aggressive than other dog breeds, despite their reputation. “Every dog has a trigger point, and is capable of attacking and biting,” said Police Sgt. Tom Gray.

According to police, the victim in Sunday’s attack occurred as one animal was entering the home, and the other was exiting. The chihuahua on Sunday was the only victim in the three attacks to not sustain any injuries, according to police.

On April 28, in the first of the three attacks, a 9-year-old child was hospitalized. The animal was transported to the Western Arizona Humane Society’s quarantine center for ten days, and its owner was cited for Lake Havasu City ordinances against aggressive animals.

In the second attack, which occurred May 1, a man was hospitalized after being bit by a pit bull. According to police, the second victim had been attempting to break up an apparent fight between the pit bull and his own dog. The owner of that animal was still being sought by police as of Tuesday afternoon.

Western Arizona Humane Society Executive Director Patty Gillmore agrees that pit bulls get a bad rap. Any dog, no matter its breed, can be aggressive for any number of reasons, she says. But there’s a vast difference between an angry lapdog and an angry pit bull.

“(Pit bulls) get fingered the most, but any dog can attack,” Gillmore said Tuesday.

According to Gillmore, each of the Humane Society’s shelter animals is subjected to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ “SAFER” (Safety Assessment For Evaluation Rehoming) test. The test is used to assess a dog’s behaviors, sensitivities and levels of aggression in determining whether such a dog will be friendly toward people, children or other pets. Based on dogs’ respective scores, the SAFER test is used by Humane Society officials to find out if an animal is safe enough to be adopted.

“Some dogs are aggressive toward other dogs, and some are aggressive toward children,” Gillmore said. “Sometimes dogs have been hurt … by a child, or someone with a cane, or someone wearing glasses, and they remember. Just like abuse scars a child, it can scar a dog, too.”

In Gillmore’s five years as the Humane Society’s executive director, however, she has never been bitten by a pit bull.

“People can be too quick to judge,” Gillmore said. “We have to work with these dogs. Sometimes the court orders a dog brought in, or the owners make that decision themselves … if they’re brought to us because they’re aggressive, we will do everything in our power to work with that dog, and we will not adopt it out if we know that dog is aggressive … the big thing is trust. It takes a long time for these dogs to build trust.”