Society

Pit Bull Severs Genitals of 5-Year-Old Yonkers Boy

| by Denise A Justin

A five-year-old boy Yonkers boy tried to climb into bed with his 13-year-old sleeping aunt, but the girl’s pet Pit Bull, named Momma, turned on the boy attacking him and severing his genitals on November 10. The child is still hospitalized, reports The Journal News. The boy’s grandmother, Marissa Pettiford, said “It was a family accident. It’s very tragic.”

Pettiford, the boy’s grandmother, who told police she works as a teacher, said that the child was begging to play a video game but she would not give it to him. That was what prompted the little boy to go into the bedroom where his teenage aunt was asleep. She said the 6-year-old female Pit Bull is “a particularly protective dog.”

Pettiford and two others face criminal charges in connection with the attack, police report. The Pit Bull was euthanized at the city animal shelter on Thursday, according to The Journal News.

Police said the incident took place in Pettiford’s apartment at Cottage Place Gardens. According to the criminal complaint, the youngster “was savagely bitten by the pit-bull, suffering severe bite wounds, lacerations and a severed penis.”

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The 5-year-old victim was rushed to Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx and later transferred to another area hospital where he is recovering, The Journal News reports.

It was one of the worst dog attacks in the Lower Hudson Valley since Oct. 7, 2004, when a 45-year-old Airmont woman was killed and her sister seriously injured by a Pit Bull terrier they were dog-sitting.

Marissa Pettiford, who lives in the apartment, and Vernon Jackson, the father of Pettiford’s 13-year-old daughter, both were charged with having an unlicensed dangerous dog, an unclassified misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.

Pettiford, Jackson and the boy’s mother, whose name is being withheld by The Journal News because her son is a victim, also were charged with allowing a dog to commit a nuisance.

Yonkers Corporation Counsel Michael Curti said Jackson, 45, of 279 N. Broadway, Yonkers, was ordered held on $15,000 bail on Thursday.

Police described Momma as “unlicensed, dangerous and vicious” in the complaint. They said Jackson told officers that he had the dog secured in a rear bedroom at the apartment. The complaint says Pettiford told the young victim “multiple times not to approach the dog because the dog was dangerous.”

Pettiford disputes the police’s account of what happened, saying she never told the boy to stay away from the dog, because the Pit Bull lives with Jackson and has never exhibited signs it was dangerous in the six years her daughter has had it.

The dog was at Pettiford’s apartment for the weekend at her daughter’s request, Pettiford said. Her grandson also happened to be spending the weekend with her, Pettiford said.

“For the three days she was here, it was no problem,” she said of the Pit Bull.

Pettiford, who said she has owned a Pit Bull in the past, said the dog likely felt threatened by the boy’s movements. Had she known it would attack the boy, she would never have let it near him, said Pettiford, who, in addition to her teenage daughter, has an 11-year-old son. The dog has come to visit on other occasions and the family felt comfortable and safe around it, she said.

In the 2004 Airmont attack, police said Jeanine Fusco and her sister, Valerie Wall, 43, were dog-sitting for an acquaintance when the Pit Bull turned on them. Rockland Sheriff’s Department deputies and Ramapo police found Fusco’s mauled body in her two-car garage shortly after the 3:50 a.m. attack.

Officers shot and killed the dog, which also attacked Wall and left her with bite wounds on her leg and finger.

The JournalNews writes that the breed--with a reputation for viciousness that some argue is unfair--is responsible for most fatal dog attacks in the U.S., according to DogsBite.org. The public education group also reports that last year 38 people died as a result of dog attacks in the United States. Pit bulls, which make up 5 percent of the country’s dog population, were responsible for 23 — or 61 percent — of the deaths, the group reports. Half of those killed were children 8 or younger.

Source: Journal News