A pit bull mauled two young boys not far from their home in Robeson County, North Carolina. A seven-year-old boy was killed and his brother injured during the attack. When emergency responders arrived at the scene, they found Talen Nathan West, unresponsive and covered in puncture wounds. His eight-year-old brother Jaylen Ray West had been attacked by the pit bull as well, and bitten on his leg. The attack took place at 11:20 a.m. Sunday near the 2400 block of Odum Road.
According to a report by WNCN, the boys were playing with two other children in a field near their home when they were chased by a group of dogs. Jaylen escaped by climbing on top of a car, but Talen was caught and mauled by the dogs. Family members said that Jaylen tried to fight the pit bull off to protect his brother.
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“His little brother had a machete or hatchet or something and got the dog off of him, but it was too late,” said the boy’s cousin, Devin West.
“One (dog) was on that leg, one (dog) was on that leg – the big one just all over his face biting him up. When I saw his face and his lip with a big hole on it, I just …it was scary. I didn’t want him to die on me, but it was too late,” Jaylen said.
Finally, he said, the pit bull tackled his brother and broke his neck.
After being transported to Southeastern Medical Center, Talen died. Jaylen was treated for his wounds and released.
There is a high rate of dog attacks in Robeson County, averaging about one a month. Family members said that this pit bull, who died at the scene, had no history of violent behavior. But they are now saying they want justice for Talen. The owner of the dogs, Alfreda Locklear, suggested the boys may have done something to provoke the attacks.
Spencer Oxendine, Locklear’s brother, said one of the dogs recently had a litter of puppies.
Authorities continue investigation about the attack, the death of Talen, and the death of the dog.
The subject of hot debate among dog fanciers, the American Pit Bull Terrier is not recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club. The registry defers to the American Staffordshire Terrier instead. According to the AKC Breed Standard, the “Amstaff” is described as, “Confident, good-natured, and smart.”
The pit bull, generally thought to be a nondescript mix of this breed and others, originated as a “bull baiting” breed, one that was bred to grab a bull by the nose and hang on. The sport of bull baiting ended in 1835. But what evolved was a sleek, muscular canine linebacker who could drop a full-sized bull with ease, hammer-headed and with a wide, crushing jaw that was programmed to never let go.
Breed state legislation has swept the country, a proposed solution to dog attack problems. The theory is by outlawing certain breeds that are considered high risk, among them pit bulls, Rottweilers and German shepherds, bite incidents can be reduced dramatically. But dog lovers protest that these laws are unfair. Dog owners, they say, have a responsibility. An entire breed cannot be held accountable for the actions of one individual creature, nor the shortcomings of its irresponsible owners. In some cases, the legislation changes due to stellar behavior by the dogs themselves. In Hazel Park, Michigan, the breed ban was lifted when a pit bull came to her owner’s defense.
Many animal behaviorists claim that aggression problems lie with dog owners who do not take their responsibility seriously. The dogs are not socialized, not trained, or not contained in a manner that is appropriate or can effectively hold them. Some are allowed to live and run in packs, while their oblivious owners just look the other way and hope for the best.
Those who love pit bulls are their staunch defenders, saying the embattled breed suffers more abuse than many others, using Michael Vick’s dogs as an example. Others point out the glut of pit bulls in shelters and rescue and how, despite all, they maintain a happy and trusting disposition.
Still, it’s hard to explain that to a mother who has lost a son, or a child who bravely fought off a pit bull, trying to save his brother.
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