Pit Bull That Killed Northern Calif. Boy Nephi Selu is Euthanized

| by Denise A Justin
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The Pit Bull that inflicted a fatal bite to a 6-year-old Union City boy was euthanized on Tuesday in Fremont, a police spokeswoman said. "Gava" had been taken to the Tri-City Animal Shelter in Fremont after he bit Nephi Selu, the nephew of the dog’s owner, who is a San Mateo police officer, as the boy was” riding him like a horse,” according to an NBC Bay Area report.

The incident occurred at about 11:30 a.m. and the child was declared dead around 4:00 p.m. at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto.

Nephi was reportedly playing with the dog, along with other children, in the backyard of his grandparents' home in the 32400 block of Elizabeth Way. when the dog bit him on the top of his head..

The dog's owner , who is also Nephi’s uncle, is identified as Keala Keanaaina. He pulled the animal off the child, according to attorney Michael Rains, who is speaking for the family.

Rains said he was told by family members that the boy was talking, conscious and lucid after the attack. His uncle assumed he only needed a few stitches, so he went to work, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

The family reported that Nephi, who had just graduated from kindergarten, and his mother were staying at the home with the grandmother, along with Keala Keanaaina and his wife with seven children.

Nephi's aunt, Iona Keanaaina, said “Gava” was very obedient, was never allowed in the house, stayed right at the door. “We never had any problems with him at all, took him around with us, my kids loved him," Mercury News reported. Ms. Keanaaina said she has eight other children, according to the original report by NBC Bay Area News, and that all the children played regularly with the dog.

Authorities report that Gava was licensed and had current rabies shots. There is no indication whether the two-year-old Pit Bull had been neutered. Neighbors who have seen the dog out and about said the family seemed to take good care of him and the dog was always on a leash and gave no hints that it might be vicious. However, the family did not want the dog back and agreed to euthanasia, according to reports..

Rains said all the children "rough house" with the dog regularly. "This dog has never even barked at these kids, never showed any aggressive (behavior)," he said. "You can't figure out what happened. He [Nephi] was just playing with him and the next thing that happened is the dog bit the child."

It has been reported that there were two dogs at the home, but no information was provided regarding a second dog. ,Arthur Kouns, a neighbor, told Mercury News.. "The dogs always appeared very friendly, always wagging their tails."

Tilema Selu, mother of the boy, both of whom were reportedly staying at the family home, told KGO-TV, "It was like one best friend turning on the other,". "He had no signs of being hostile. In fact, we felt confident that it was a protector of our children."

She confirmed that six-year-old Nephi had been” riding the dog like a horse” when the dog bit him.

The dog's owner, Keala Keanaaina, said he bought the Pit Bull two years ago to keep his family safe.


Not diminishing the tragedy of this incident, it has been suggested by some observers that eight children left unattended to “rough house” with any dog in a backyard could actually result in unintentional abuse of the animal.

Pit Bulls are touted by advocates as “nanny dogs.” Is it possible this was taken too seriously by the family—to the point of believing that the dog could tolerate any type of treatment by the children, no matter how much he loved them.

Could having a six-year old boy climbing on the dog’s back and riding it—apparently unsupervised--have been painful to the dog? Could this one bite have been self-protection by a dog that does not appear to be large in stature being ridden by a six-year-old? It did not appear to be a vicious attack, the spokesperson for the famiily said..

If the two-year-old male dog was unneutered, could it have perceived that the child was engaging in dominant behavior?

There was no indication whether the other dog in the household is also “rough housed” by seven or eight children. To avoid tragedies, experts say young children should not be left alone with any dog—for the safety of the children and the dog.

Read Also: Pit Bull Kills 6-Year-Old Nephi Selu, Dog Owner is California Bay Area Cop

Sources: Mercury News, [2]