A pit bull attacked a 76-year-old woman on Tuesday as she was making her daily shopping trip to Walmart in San Jacinto, California, sending her to the hospital with severe puncture wounds, according to San Jacinto police. The elderly woman had moved to the Southern California community about a month ago, neighbors told NBC News.
The victim was walking on Commonwealth Avenue, near San Jacinto Street when the dog attacked, police said. San Jacinto is a city of about 45,000 people, located just north of Hemet in the desert area of Riverside County.
Neighbors, including Jose Reyes and Javier Lopez, heard the woman screaming and tried to save her by hitting the pit bull with a baseball bat and golf club but could not stop the dog, police said.
The two men who helped the woman told NBC4 that at first they thought there was a fist fight going on but when they heard the screams of the elderly woman they ran out to try to help her. They beat the dog repeatedly in the body as it dragged the woman down the street for a few minutes.
"I was just hitting him in the body, but the dog wouldn’t let go," José Reyes said in a TV News interview. He said he was afraid to hit the dog in the face because he might accidentally injure the woman. He said the dog seemed to have no intention of stopping the attack but finally let go and went home. They carried the frail woman to safety and waited for emergency response officials, he said.
The Pit Bull has now been placed in a 10-day quarantine by Riverside County Animal Control, and officials said it likely will be put down.
The dog's owner described the pit bull as "playful” and said there are a lot of kids there who play with it all the time. He said wasn't home at the time the attack occurred.
"I don't know what antagonized him," the owner told NBC4 News. Cameras showed another Pit Bull in his yard. He said it was a female who got out of the yard and the male followed her. The male dog is unneutered, reporters said.
The attack came just after the insurance company Farmers Group, Inc., notified policyholders in February that bites by pit bulls, Rottweilers and wolf hybrids will no longer be covered by homeowners insurance in the state.
Last month other attacks by Pit Bulls occurred in this area, including one involving a man shooting two pit bulls during an attack on a San Dimas equestrian trail. A woman and her horse were attacked by two pit bulls Feb. 23, prompting a neighbor to call for help before his relative shot at the dogs with a rifle, killing one.
About two weeks before the incident on the trail, a 91-year-old Desert Hot Springs woman died after she was attacked and killed by her two pit bulls.
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