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Pit bull owners plead not guilty in attack on San Diego woman, 75

June 30, 2011 |  4:29 pm

A mother and daughter pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges linked to an attack by their pit bulls on a 75-year-old neighbor in San Diego.

Alba Cornelio, 39, and Carla Cornelio, 19, are charged with a felony of having an animal that caused serious bodily injury and misdemeanors of failure to protect the public, owning a dangerous animal and failure to restrain a dog.

Two pit bulls owned by the Cornelios attacked 75-year-old Emako Mendoza on June 18 in the backyard of her Paradise Hills home.

Bitten severely on her legs, arm and back, Mendoza has had her left leg amputated and faces surgery on her right leg in an effort to save it, according to prosecutors.

The Cornelios were arrested Wednesday night and arraigned Thursday in San Diego County Superior Court. Bail for each was set at $350,000.

"Dog owners must take responsibility for their animals and prevent them from hurting the public," said Dist. Atty. Bonnie Dumanis. If convicted on all counts, each defendant faces up to three years and eight months in prison, Dumanis said.

After the attack, the dogs were seized and euthanized by the county Department of Animal Services.

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--Tony Perry in San Diego

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