Fresno woman extremely critical after mauling by two pit bulls

Animal control officers took custody of four dogs after woman mauled in Fresno on Tuesday, April 5, 2016.
Animal control officers took custody of four dogs after woman mauled in Fresno on Tuesday, April 5, 2016. The Fresno Bee

A woman mauled by two pit bull dogs was in extremely critical condition after an attack in an alley near downtown Fresno early Tuesday morning, police said.

The attack happened in an alley near Diamond Street and McKenzie Avenue, near the Highway 41 offramp at Divisadero Street.

The woman, who may be a transient, was walking in the alley when the dogs escaped a fenced yard, possibly through an alley gate or by climbing atop a chair, police Lt. Joe Gomez said.

The woman sustained serious bites over most of her body and was rushed to the trauma center at Community Regional Medical Center. Gomez said the woman needed emergency blood transfusions.

Four dogs were taken away after the attack. Police say two will be euthanized and the other two will be evaluated.

Police did not immediately know the identity of the victim, who is in her 50s. Officers tried to use a fingerprint reader for identification but were unsuccessful because of the extent of her injuries.

In addition to the severity of the bites, the victim is at the risk of serious infection. At the hospital, the victim was able to tell nurses she was thirsty and in a great deal of pain.

Officers were called to the alley about 6:30 a.m. They learned the owner of the dogs heard something in the alley, but did not know what because it was dark.

She was able to call one of the attacking dogs. When she went to get the other animal, she realized it was attacking the victim, and was able to control it and told a neighbor to call police.

Police do not know how long the attack lasted before the owner interceded.

The department’s Crime Scene Bureau collected evidence. Gomez said the dogs’ owner might face charges of having an unrestrained animal.

The attack by the dogs reignited a long-simmering debate between those who seek legislation banning pit bulls and supporters of the breed.

Solange McInnis, of National Pit Bull Victim Awareness, said pit bulls and pit bull mixes were responsible for seven of eight fatalities committed by dogs in the United States in 2016 and 22 fatalities in California from 2010 to 2016.

But Becky Holly of Fresno Bully Rescue said breed-specific legislation does not work. She said it “takes all personal responsibility from the owner and puts it on the breed.”

“These people pretty much troll every article ... on the subject” of dog attacks, she said.

“It’s tragic,” she said of Tuesday’s attack.

Holly said it is unfortunate that “backyard breeders” are selling the dogs on Internet websites such as Craigslist and that the animals are not going to responsible owners.

News of the attack worried some residents of the neighborhood.

Maria Villalva said she often takes her daughter to nearby Jefferson Elementary School along McKenzie Avenue. She said she sees lots of dogs in the area.

“I’ll probably go another way,” she said.