The male pit bull, a family pet, was euthanized Sunday after it mauled the 40-year-old woman inside her home on the 2700 block of Silverado Drive, a quiet, tree-lined street in a residential area of Pinole Valley.
The woman, whose name was not released, was transported by helicopter to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, where she was listed in critical condition Monday. The attack was so vicious that even paramedics were shocked.
It wasn’t clear Monday why the dog attacked, but investigators are looking into the possibility that the muscular canine pounced when the woman attempted to help a man who lived in the home and who was having a seizure or some kind of medical emergency.
The man, who was not identified, was not harmed by the dog, but he was sent to the hospital for evaluation after the attack because he appeared confused, Piper said.
Lt. Joe DeCosta of Contra Costa Animal Services said officers are trying to determine which one of the two residents was the primary owner of the dog. If it is determined that the owner knew the potential for harm and did not take reasonable precautions, he or she could be charged with a felony or misdemeanor for harboring a “mischievous animal,” DeCosta said.
“We’re investigating all aspects of the case at this point,” DeCosta said. “It’s a serious case and it involves a family member, so it’s a tragedy all around. The thing we have to look into is whether this was a preventable incident.”
Brain tissue samples were taken from the dog so that the county health department could conduct rabies tests, the results of which are expected Tuesday.
The victim’s neighbors said the pit bull had appeared to be well behaved. Andrew John, a retired missionary who lives up the street and trains therapy dogs, said he’d seen both the woman and the pit bull on his frequent walks with his own dog, a border collie named Penny.
“The dog had a kind, loving temperament, just like Penny here, but it must have snapped,” he said. “For whatever reason, it must have interpreted her behavior as a threat.” Animal Services officers went door to door Monday talking to neighbors about the attack.
“It definitely raises some concerns,” said Stephen Beaton, a United Kingdom native who has lived in the neighborhood for about three years. “You see dogs around, but they are all generally under control. Right now our thoughts are with the woman and her family.”