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Animal control officer loses part of a thumb in Bell Gardens dog attack

Beware of Dog Animal control officer Martha Muro, 26, lost part of her thumb yesterday to an attack by a vicious dog while on the job in Bell Gardens. Muro was hospitalized and, as of last night, doctors were evaluating whether the severed thumb section, which was recovered, could be reattached. Our colleague Rich Connell at the L.A. Now blog reports:

Muro, an officer for three years, was making a follow-up visit to a house on Live Oak Street to ensure that excessive dog feces had been cleaned up. As she spoke to the owner at the front door, two pit bulls began lunging at a chain-link gate in a side yard, [Capt. Aaron Reyes of the Southeast Area Animal Control Authority] said.

Muro retreated from the front yard, but the dogs escaped, broke through a hole in a front gate and a male pit bull attacked. The dog latched onto Muro’s baton and wrestled her to the ground, Reyes said, adding, “He was going for her face and neck.”

When the owner approached, Muro was able to break free and a neighbor summoned help. The male pit bull was turned over by the owner and euthanized, Reyes said. 

Tests are underway to determine possible medical causes for the dog's aggression, including rabies, Reyes said. The second pit bull, a female, was quarantined for observation.

The attack came just days before the start of National Dog Bite Prevention Week, May 17-23.  About 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs every year, with about a fifth of those bites being severe enough to require medical attention, according to the California Consumer blog. Those most at risk, according to California Consumer, are children, the elderly and postal service employees (in that order).

-- Lindsay Barnett

File photo credit: Sally Tynan / For The Times

 
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