In San Diego Attack, Dogs Were Victims, Too

June 23, 2011  

Emako Mendoza and her husband, James.

By Michael Mountain

It’s shocking to read of the dog attack that took place in San Diego last week.

A 75-year-old woman remains in critical condition after being mauled last Saturday morning in her own backyard by two pit bull type dogs who had dug out from under the fence in their backyard.

Emako Mendoza had to have her left leg amputated below the knee, and she may lose her left arm as well. (Her family has asked that no further information on her condition be released.)

Our deepest sympathies go out to Mrs. Mendoza and her family.

Everything we know of the story so far makes it a classic case of criminal negligence and irresponsibility on the part of the dogs’ guardian.

First, the two dogs were clearly untrained and unsocialized. They were not spayed, either, and, as a result, there were 11 puppies in the backyard.

The dogs had been in trouble before. One of them had bitten a poodle and her person. A sanitation complaint had also been issued against the occupant of the house, Alba Cornelio, who may now face felony charges of failing to keep control of an animal who has caused serious bodily injury.

It’s common, after attacks like this, for people to become defensive and take sides. City councils and county authorities often feel pushed into being seen to be doing something strong and purposeful, like passing laws to ban particular breeds – usually pit bulls these days. Dog lovers then take up the opposite side, pointing out that banning this or that breed of dog is not going to accomplish anything. They point out that there’s no evidence that banning dogs of a particular breed or appearance has ever reduced the number of dog bites in any city, county or even country where it’s been tried. Often, the opposite is the case: Dog bites actually go up.

Banning dogs of particular breeds or appearances will never stop people from abusing animals. They simply switch to other breeds. Nor is there a one-size-fits-all solution to criminally irresponsible humans. However, comprehensive dangerous dog laws that put the responsibility on the owners, regardless of breed, can make a difference.

The basic fact is that the guilty party in a dog attack is never the dog; it’s always the person or people who caused or allowed it to happen. And to raise a dog in a way that causes injury to other people is not just criminal abuse of those other people; it’s criminal abuse of the dog.

The last serious dog attack in San Diego County happened a year ago, according to Lt. Dan DeSousa of San Diego County Animal Services. In that case, a 2-year-old boy died after being mauled by the family’s German Shepherd. The mother has pleaded not guilty to several charges including child endangerment, but she could face several years in prison if convicted.

In every case of a situation like this, there are two sets of victims: the person who was attacked and the dog who bit them. Right now, Mrs. Mendoza lies in hospital – her life will never be the same as she faces the loss of two limbs. And the two dogs and 11 puppies were also victims of that same horrible crime – they have already lost their lives. None of this should have happened.

Now would be a good time for people in San Diego to sit down together in order to take effective action that protects citizens from people who refuse to take proper care of their dogs – and that protects dogs from those same people, too.

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15 Responses to “In San Diego Attack, Dogs Were Victims, Too”
  1. LoriJolly says:

    Bingo. You hit that one RIGHT on the nose!

  2. StubbyDog says:

    @LoriJolly Thanks Lori.

  3. Absolutely true. It breaks my heart when animals are assumed to be inherently vicious or deadly — they’re not born that way. With training and proper care, these type of attacks wouldn’t happen.

  4. StubbyDog says:

    @annedreshfield Thank you Anne. So true

  5. katereeve says:

    This is horrible. I am so sad to read this. In Arizona, we had a story not long ago of a young boy who was attacked by two dogs. The boy was ok, but the dogs were put down. The owner had clearly not fed the dogs, and there were a few other pets in the house. The owner worked for animal care and control for the county (or something similar). How does this keep happening? You can’t stop feeding your dog, you can’t not teach them basic obedience! It’s just like kids…you wouldn’t starve your children or not teach them how to use inside voices or not to bite other children, right??

  6. StubbyDog says:

    @katereeve It is indeed upsetting. Especially because it’s the guardians that are doing the wrong thing, but the dogs ultimately pay the biggest price.

  7. KristineElizabeth says:

    Punish the deed, not the breed! I have a hard time with people that want to blame the dogs. It’s like blaming a toddler for having bad manners. The dog only knows what it’s shown. If it is ignored, starved or abused, it may strike out. Unfortunately, this is due to irresponsible owners, since dogs are just animals that act on instinct. I have known people to have had bites from poodles, golden retrievers and mutts. And, anyone that researches on legitimate websites (not blogs and wikipedia and special interest groups) can find that the history of pitbulls earned them the nick name “nanny dog.” It wasn’t until the beginning of inbreeding and dog fighting rings that pits began to earn a bad rap. I wonder if gang members and criminal-types started buying collies if we’d start trying to ban them too….

  8. peanutmomma says:

    I live here in San Diego, seen this story all week on the news. When ever its a pit bull attack its labeled just like that. Any other dog attacks some one, and the breed is never mentioned. Before demonizing the breed of dog, how about profiling the owners. Im sure there are similarities in all owners of aggressive dogs, of all breeds. Im the proud owner of a staffie, and a mastiff pitbull, and no one can convince me my dogs are dangerous. We’ve forgotten what the choosing a breed is all about. Its not to make ourselves feel tough, and look mean. Its to find a dog whos personality matches ours, fits our needs. I love my pit bulls, they’re my exercise partners, my friends, cuddle buddies, sometimes a little on the gassy side, but thats okay =) The one thing they are not, is an accessory to my style.

  9. StubbyDog says:

    @KristineElizabeth Thanks for your comments Kristine, it is truly sad that people get caught up in the media hype and don’t treat the dogs as individuals and do valid research.

  10. StubbyDog says:

    @peanutmomma Thanks, you make many valid points, especially about the ‘owners’ of people with aggressive dogs. Dogs should never be an accessory.

  11. peanutmomma says:

    @StubbyDog @peanutmomma

  12. peanutmomma says:

    @StubbyDog Even right now, Im sitting in the office with my bosses pit bull who ive never meet and shes had her head rested on my knee ever since I sat down at my desk.

  13. StubbyDog says:

    @peanutmomma aw, so sweet 🙂

  14. NicholeRyanStaib says:

    what did those 11 puppies do to deserve the death sentence? were they so far gone that they were truely unadoptab;e, or was it just that their parents were dangerous? this story breaks my heart for more than one reason. i hope that this poor woman is able to recover from the loss she has suffered.

  15. StubbyDog says:

    @NicholeRyanStaib Thanks for your comments, and yes, it’s truly sad those puppies were euthanized. It was a horrible situation all around.