Society

2 Pit Bulls in Deadly Attack on Ex Calif. Fire Chief Milford Fonza

| by Denise A Justin

GLENDORA, Calif. - “I thought I was going to die—I thought they were going to kill me,” retired Compton, CA, Fire Chief Milford Fonza told KTLA.com. On Monday, Oct. 10, Fonza was attacked by two pit bulls in the 1600 block of Sunflower Avenue while taking his usual morning walk near his home in Glendora, Calif., a town 23 miles east of Los Angeles.

Fonza said he had never seen the dogs before and he tried to use his walking stick to defend himself, but it broke into pieces from the force of the pit bulls.

The 67-year-old Vietnam veteran and former boxer was trying to climb over a block wall to get away from the dogs when he realized his shoulder was broken. The pit bulls then pulled him back down to the sidewalk and began a gruesome attack, biting his face, hands, arms, stomach, groin and legs, as he fought for his life.

Fonza later described his own physical condition as "running out of gas," and said that his legs began to give out. If Officer Matt Fenner had not saved his life, he could not have fought off the two dogs much longer, he added.

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Fonza was bleeding profusely and screaming for help, according to Glendora Police Officer Fenner, who was driving by on patrol and saw the attack taking place. Fenner said, as Fonza was struggling to escape, the dogs pulled him back down and one of the dogs then circled out into the street to attack him again. At that time, the only way Officer Fenner could stop the dog was to hit him with the police car. 

As Officer Fenner called for emergency backup by other Glendora police officers, the first dog continued its attack on Fonza. When the officer got out of his vehicle and approached, the dog turned and lunged toward him. Officer Fenner then drew his gun and fired at the pit bull, killing it instantly.

"I knew then I was going to live," Fonza said. "This officer saved my life. These dogs were trying to kill me," he added. "I truly think death was imminent," said Glendora police Lt. Tim Staab.  http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2011/10/10/officer-saves-retired-fire-captain-from-pit-bull-attack/

KTLA.com reports that the sound of the gunfire caused the pit bull that had been hit by the police car to limp away. A responding backup police unit followed the injured dog to an elementary school where it was confined until Glendora Animal Control officers arrived and tranquilized it. The pit bull was transported to a 24-hour emergency veterinary clinic where it died, according to the report.

The owner of the two pit bulls was later located by Glendora Police, and the dogs were identified as a 1-year-old female and a 6-year-old male.

Glendora Lt. Tim Staab stated that the owner will not be charged until the investigation is completed but it is expected that a citation will be issued for allowing dogs at-large, which is punishable by a fine. Lt. Staab told reporters that the owner had moved to Glendora one year ago. Although there had been no prior reports or incidents involving the dogs, they were unlicensed. http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2011/10/10/officer-saves-retired-fire-captain-from-pit-bull-attack/

According to the police, the pit bulls escaped a fenced yard through an unlatched gate. Lt. Staab said the owner is cooperating with the investigation and will provide proof of vaccination for the dogs. Stabb also reports that the owner “was very remorseful over the incident and spoke to Fonza over the telephone.” He offered to pay all medical bills resulting from the injuries, according to GlendoraPatch.com.  http://glendora.patch.com/articles/pit-bull-owner-offers-to-pay-for-mauling-victims-medical-expenses

The former Fire Chief told reporters, “I’ve never been more horrified in my life." He added that during his career, “I’ve been in some scary situations, some dangerous situations, some life-threatening situations. “But, when you have two mad, vicious pit bulls attacking you — I mean, it’s horrifying."  http://www.ktla.com/news/landing/ktla-glendora-pitbull-attack,0,2583955.story

As a former pit bull owner, Fonza cautioned, “I know by nature they are very bullheaded and aggressive animals. Unless the owner can be responsible and spend a lot of money in training these animals, they should not be taken in as pets.”

Fonza says that after he recovers, he plans to continue his early-morning walks and follow the same route he has taken for 20 years, but he will carry a bigger stick.

A 1994 Los Angeles Times article states, that Compton Fire Chief Milford Fonza started his career as the first African American firefighter in Iowa, and his son is also a firefighter.  http://articles.latimes.com/1994-06-23/news/cb-7365_1_county-fire-department