Man found dead in Selma yard mauled by pit bulls

The Fresno BeeDecember 11, 2012 

A man found dead at a Selma home Tuesday night was mauled by pit bull dogs, a Fresno County sheriff's spokesman said.

The man was found about 7 p.m. in a yard on Highway 43, also known as South Highland Avenue, south of Nebraska Avenue and just west of the city limits.

Deputy Chris Curtice said a woman coming home discovered the body on her property as she pulled into her driveway.

Little was known Wednesday about the man. The coroner's office said it was working to identify him and hadn't determined a cause of death, and Curtice said he didn't have additional information to share about the man.

Detectives determined he had been mauled, Curtice said -- he had traumatic injuries, witnesses reported seeing dogs loose in the area Tuesday evening, and paw prints were seen around the body. Investigators tracked down four pit bulls at a nearby home, and each of the dogs had blood on it.

Handlers from Liberty Animal Control, the county's new animal control contractor, took control of the dogs.

A sheriff's report will be forwarded to the District Attorney's Office, which will determine whether charges will be filed against the owner of the dogs, Curtice said.

Dog attacks are not uncommon. Just last month, a man in his 70s was rescued by Fresno police officers from an attack by two pit bulls, but not before the man suffered bites on his forearms and wrists.

And in August, a Fresno County sheriff's detective shot and killed a pit bull in a central Fresno neighborhood. The detective and his partner scared the dog away after it bit a 13-year-old boy, who was found protecting himself in a fetal position. One detective followed the dog and shot it as it attacked him.

The last known fatal dog attack in Fresno County was in 2005, when 6-year-old Tyler Babcock was found dead in a pasture east of Clovis. He had been mauled to death by two of three dogs -- described as a pit bull, pit bull mix and German shepherd -- that lived on the property where Tyler was found, a home next to his grandparents' home.

Criminal charges against the dogs' owners were considered but not filed because there wasn't evidence to prove the owners did anything wrong.

In the months that followed, attention was focused on toughening local and state dog-control laws.

Bee staff contributed to this report. The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6386 or ejimenez@fresnobee.com.

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