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Las Vegas boy attacked by pit bull won’t lose his leg; dog could be put down

The 7-year-old boy who was attacked by a pit bull in Las Vegas last week won’t lose his leg as was feared.

So said Cesar Walker, the boy’s father, in an interview from the doorstep of the family’s apartment in the northeast valley Wednesday.

But the dog, which was shot twice to protect the child’s life, could be “put down” Tuesday if no one claims it, under Clark County Animal Control policy.

“I don’t want that damn dog,” said Walker, whose child has been recuperating at University Medical Center from a severe bite wound to the calf.

The 3-year-old, 62-pound dog is recovering at an animal hospital in Las Vegas. Veterinarians are treating its gunshot wounds and monitoring it for rabies under a 10-day hold policy in the absence of vaccination records, county spokesman Dan Kulin said.

“But the quarantine will end Monday night,” Kulin said. “And if nobody comes forward, he’ll be sent to the Animal Foundation.”

Because the dog has been involved in an attack, it cannot be “adopted out” for fear that it could attack somebody again, Kulin said.

Meghan Scheibe, a spokeswoman for the Animal Foundation, said all dog euthanizations take place inside the Lied Animal Shelter. Death arrives in less than a minute, after with a lethal injection of sodium pentobarbital.

“They just basically go to sleep,” she said. “It’s pretty quick and painless. The amount of the injection usually depends on the size of the dog.”

The Metropolitan Police Department initially reported that the child was bitten at 6 p.m. on Jan 31 outside the apartment complex in the 2100 block of Exeter Drive, northeast of the intersection of Lake Mead and North Hollywood boulevards.

Animal Control removed the pit bull from the residence with a pair of 9-month-old pit bull puppies.

But so far it’s unknown why the pit bull attacked the child, and nobody can locate the person who used the gun to save the child’s life.

In the interview with the father, one of his daughters said, “My brother saved my other brother’s life.”

However, the father declined to talk about it, insisting that the hero was a neighbor. But he said he didn’t know the neighbor’s name.

Animal Control is still investigating, Kulin said.

So far no charges have been filed against the father. Metro’s abuse and neglect unit was on scene shortly after the attack, which is policy when a child is injured when left unattended, police said.

The father, who works as a security guard, said he wasn’t home when the attack occurred. He said he plans to move his family of five out of the apartment and neighborhood.

The complex is in a rundown, low-income neighborhood, with a backdrop of Sunrise Mountain.

Clark County School District police bike officers who patrol the community to protect schoolchildren said the neighborhood is full of “hybrid gangs,” and residential burglaries are common.

Neighbors said it’s common for pit bulls to run loose in the neighborhood. Four families own at least a dozen pit bulls, mostly to protect their property, one neighbor said.

“But I don’t need dogs,” said Lydia Lopez, who lives across the street from where the attack occurred. She stood behind an iron fence that fronts her four-bedroom home. “I’ve got security cameras.”

A mail carrier said she couldn’t count how many times she has run away from either pit bulls or chihuahuas there. The top two breeds in Las Vegas account for more than 60 percent of the annual intakes at the Lied Animal Shelter, Scheibe said.

The carrier, who asked that her name not be used, said the neighborhood is “one of the worst” she has ever seen, and that people are “always moving in and moving out of there.”

Thomas Black, a former resident of south-central Los Angeles whose grandchildren live just south of the neighborhood, said many of the residents have relocated from areas of New Orleans hit hard by Hurricane Katrina and from housing projects St. Louis and Chicago.

“That’s where all the ruckus usually occurs,” he said. “We don’t get too much trouble down this way.”

Jason Allswang, chief of code enforcement for Clark County Animal Control, said a dog’s behavior largely depends on the way the owner trains and treats it.

“They can be trained to be aggressive or docile,” Allswang said. “It doesn’t matter what breed it is.”

Pit bull attacks seem to be the most common and talked about, but only because their populations are high, not necessarily because of the breed, he said.

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