Attack by pit bulls seriously injures Modesto woman

etracy@modbee.comJanuary 31, 2014 

    Erin Tracy
    Title: Breaking news reporter
    Coverage areas: Breaking news, crime
    Bio: Erin Tracy started working for The Bee in September 2010. She has a journalism degree from Humboldt State University and previously worked at the Daily Democrat in Woodland and the Times-Standard in Eureka.
    Recent stories written by Erin
    On Twitter: @ModestoBeeCrime

A Modesto woman was severely injured after being mauled by two pit bulls while walking her beagle Thursday afternoon.

The woman suffered bites and lacerations over her entire body when she was attacked in the 1500 block of Theresa Street northeast of Orangeburg Avenue and Carver Road, said Modesto police spokeswoman Heather Graves.

Two neighbors heard the dogs’ growling and barking and stopped the attack before it was too late.

Cynthia Bassett said her next-door neighbor warned her Thursday morning about two vicious dogs roaming the neighborhood. A few hours later, she noticed an animal control officer in the neighborhood who was looking for the dogs but – as Bassett learned later – never found them.

About 1 p.m., she heard the sounds of the attack and ran outside. Bassett was joined by her next-door neighbor and they both ran toward the animals.

“It was getting more aggressive and I could hear screaming,” Bassett said. “They looked like they were on top of another dog, but when I was about 2 yards away, she tried to stand up and I realized it was a human being.”

She said the woman was in the fetal position with her beagle in her lap, trying to protect it.

Bassett’s neighbor began kicking the pit pulls, scaring one off immediately. But he had to repeatedly kick the other before it eventually ran back through a hole in its fence.

Other neighbors came outside, Bassett said. Several kept the dogs at bay while she and another woman wrapped towels around the victim’s wounds.

“She looked like a shark attacked her,” Bassett said. “Her skin was pulled back and all the muscles were exposed.”

The woman was taken to a Modesto hospital for treatment and had to get dozens of stitches – including up to 30 stitches for one bite alone, said Bassett, who said she has been in contact with one of the woman’s family members.

The beagle appeared to have come out unscathed or with very little injury, Bassett said.

Graves said the pit bulls were taken by animal control and will be quarantined for 10 days.

The dogs’ owner, Ray Samol, said he was shocked by the attack, which he learned about when he came home from work and found animal control still at the scene.

He said that his dogs never have been violent and that there was no hole in his fence when he left for work Thursday morning.

Samol said he likely will not try to retrieve his dogs at the end of the 10-day quarantine.

Annette Patton, executive director of the Stanislaus Animal Services Agency, said if the owner of a dog quarantined for a dog bite does not retrieve the animal, it ultimately will be euthanized. The agency cannot adopt a dog that has bitten a human, she said.

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