ANIMAL WATCH-On Thursday, February 2, Valentin Herrera, 75, was walking with his small, 5-year-old Pomeranian, Radar, about a block from his home in Lincoln Heights -- a community officially designated as "Happy Valley." Suddenly two Pit Bulls from a nearby home escaped their yard and attacked his tiny pet, tearing it "like a piece of cloth," according to a neighbor.
Eyewitnesses report that Radar was off-leash, walking a distance ahead of Mr. Herrera, who rushed to try to save his dog and himself became a victim of the Pit Bulls. They knocked or pulled him to the ground and were dragging him by his arm, according to KTLA-TV News.
One neighbor stated that the owner of the dogs merely stood and watched, without trying to stop the attack. Finally someone came out and struggled with the animals to get them back into the yard. Neither dog was licensed, according to KABC-7. The Pit Bulls were transported to the North Central animal shelter by Los Angeles Animal Services' officer Angela Llerenas. They are being held under quarantine for ten days.
A family member told me they were advised by Animal Services that a woman later claimed the dogs, but they have not been released. A hearing by Animal Services is set for early March.
Mr. Herrera was placed in a medically induced coma in an attempt to reduce swelling of his brain, and he has not yet regained consciousness, his family says.
His son, Luis, said his father had three surgeries, one to his head and one on each of his arms which were mauled by the dogs. He added that his father suffered from diabetes and two months ago had actually died from a heart attack; however, doctors were able to revive him. He described how painful it is for the family, after losing him once, to now be facing the possibility of repeating that same grief again so soon.
Valentin Herrera came to Los Angeles from Jalisco, Mexico. He and his wife, Anita, have been married for 50 years. He was a steel worker and they have lived in their current home in Northeast Los Angeles since 1996. Luis described his father as a strong, loving man and said it is very difficult to see him struggling again for his life.
A neighbor who has lived on the street since 2003 and frequently talked with Mr. Herrera when he was walking said he had not seen the Pit Bulls out before. However, he resolutely affirmed that he keeps his own dogs in his house for safety. He expressed concern because the house where the attack occurred is less than a block from the high school on the corner at North Broadway.
Another Lincoln Heights resident, Stefanie Grizzelle, told CBS News on February 4 that she recognized the two Pit Bulls that attacked Mr. Herrera as the same dogs that killed her small white Poodle-mix as her young children watched. She said they are starting therapy this week for the trauma.
Pit Bull Attacks are Not Limited to Lincoln Heights:
Last month we reported the savage attack on Priscilla Romero, an Animal Care Technician, by a Pit Bull in the same Los Angeles Animal Services' shelter where the dogs in the Lincoln Heights attack are being held.
Approximately a total of 50 other dogs of this breed have completed their quarantine period after attacks and are being held at in Los Angeles Animal Services shelter. Ten had just completed this "hold" and are available for "rescuers" to remove them and place them in "forever" homes throughout Los Angeles or elsewhere.
On April 28, 2016, GM Brenda Barnette personally released a dangerous Pit Bull to a "rescue," which fostered it in a home just north of downtown LA. The dog attacked a potential adopter and was killed by a neighbor who stabbed it 19 times.
On February 16, 2014, in Studio City, Stephen Elliott and Howard Fox were walking with their six-month-old Yorkshire Terrier, Vargas, who was on leash and close to Stephen's feet, when a large Pit Bull bolted from a nearby shop, grabbed Vargas and killed him. As they struggled to save the pup, Howard, who was recovering from back surgery, was knocked to the ground and Stephen's finger was bitten off. The Pit Bull was released back to the owner.
They called Councilman Paul Koretz, who heads the Personnel and Animal Welfare Committee. Stephen said Koretz’ senior deputy, David Hersch, said his injury was his own fault for putting his hand down to save his dog and he would not spend more time on this because he had "an event to plan."
Shortly after that a 29-year-old victim from the Ukraine, appeared before the LA Animal Services Commission to describe a horrible attack by an owned pit bull in the Hollywood area while he was jogging. Among other serious wounds, one of his testicles was bitten off by the dog. He said the dog could have killed him if he were not young and athletic. He described with gut-wrenching emotion the suffering and the emotional trauma that causes him to now be reclusive and fearful and the fact that he may never be able to have children.
On August 29, 2014, Animal Control Officer Angela Llerenas (the officer who responded to the attack that injured Valentin Herrera and killed Radar), was seriously injured when she responded to a call that two very aggressive Pit Bulls had entered a backyard in Eagle Rock and attacked a Husky. Both dogs charged the officer as she arrived and found them entering another yard. She later identified them as American Bulldogs -- originally bred to catch and hold wild boars and described by Wikipedia as “capable of jumping in excess of seven feet vertical due to the dense muscle build of the breed.”
On October 13, 2016, a 20-year-old man soliciting donations for D.A.R.E. in front of a sandwich shop in the 2600 block of Colorado Blvd. in Eagle Rock was hospitalized with multiple facial injuries after being bitten by a pit bull mix.
Two women in their mid-20s with the dog on a leash allegedly made a donation and indicated the dog was friendly and he could pet it. The woman "brought the dog over to my hand, she rubbed my hand twice and then the dog lunged at me," he said, adding that it bit him on his face, mouth and nose, the report said.
Sebastian Caban, 3-days old, was fatally bitten on the head by a family pit bull-mix while he laid in bed with his parents and the dog. The dog was a rescue. The San Diego Humane Society -- a private organization that has a partnership with San Diego Animal Services -- adopted the dog to the baby's parents 5-months before.
Who's Responsible for Dangerous Dog Attacks?
How sad it is that in less than one week two families in Lincoln Heights were robbed of their pets, their peace of mind and their happiness. Both heard the screams and saw their small canine family members drenched in blood -- senselessly killed by two large Pit Bulls to which neither of these tiny creatures was a threat.
One attack involves young children, who should be laughing and playing, rather than dealing with a senseless, brutal tragedy and this abrupt loss of innocence. Will they ever again trust that they and their loved ones are safe?
It is time for specific protection for people -- the adults and children who are innocent victims -- as well as for this breed of dog that is being exploited by those it should be able to trust. If it is true this aggression is the result of "training or abuse by bad owners," then adopters/purchasers must be required to be screened and obtain a permit before taking possession of a dog with this strength and drive.
What benefit, financial or otherwise, is there to the leading humane groups -- including Best Friends Animal Society which occupies the LA City Mission Hills animal shelter cost-free -- for lobbying in opposition to any breed-specific-legislation to protect (not ban) Pit Bulls and the public?
The compassionate who wail and moan over the possibility that dangerous and vicious dogs will be humanely euthanized need to accept that Pit Bulls are being inordinately abused, neglected, abandoned, tortured and brutally killed and are endangered by the blind disregard for the unpredictable reality of what can happen after they are "saved." But, even more endangered are the helpless, innocent pets, children and adults who become victims of attacks, including our own Valentin Herrera.
Here are some websites with important statistics:
On April 11, 2016, we reported that LAAS General Manager Brenda Barnette was conducting a survey of animal concerns in Los Angeles. You can send GM Barnette an e-mail at [email protected].
(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former City of LA employee and a contributor to CityWatch.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.