Family's pet pit bull mauls Zephyrhills boy, 4,

ZEPHYRHILLS — His mama was named Ugly and she died soon after he was born. His father still lives next door to the Reaves family and they say he'll break out of his fence now and again and kill their chickens.

But Bo took after his mother, said Joseph Reaves Sr., the 49-year-old patriarch of the family. Gentle, sweet. The 35-pound white pit bull mix never messed with the chickens or the cats or the two other, smaller dogs. The only aggression the family ever saw was with stuffed toys, which Bo ripped apart.

"We raised him up," Reaves said of the 2-year-old dog. "He's been a good dog."

He doesn't understand why Bo did what he did.

On Monday afternoon, Bo attacked Reaves' 4-year-old grandson, Dylan Medlock, as he played with trucks outside the mobile home at 8825 Brazil St. The bones in Dylan's left leg were shattered and he had puncture wounds on his arm.

"This is the first time Bo's ever, ever bitten anybody," Reaves said.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office said Dylan was at the home with Pamela Pelham, the 27-year-old girlfriend of Dylan's uncle. According to statements Pelham gave deputies, she took Dylan outside about 4 p.m., and Bo "got off his chain" and came running up to them.

Pelham said Bo knocked Dylan down and began playing with him, as was usual at the home. She said Dylan began kicking Bo and Bo bit him several times. She said she finally got Bo off Dylan and told Dylan to go inside the house — then noticed he couldn't walk.

She has no phone, so she couldn't call for help, the incident report said. About 20 minutes after the attack, her boyfriend — Joseph Reaves Jr., 27 — arrived. He put Bo in his cage. He normally uses his feet and shoes to play tug-of-war with Bo.

The senior Reaves said Bo was trained to know that when someone shuffled his or her feet, that meant the person wanted to play. He believes that is what Dylan must have done.

Dylan was taken to Florida Hospital Zephyrhills. A registered nurse who spoke with investigators said Dylan had to have surgery and "will probably have a limp the rest of his life."

Kevin Doll, spokesman for the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, said deputies with the child protection unit are investigating.

Denise Hilton, animal services manager for Pasco County Animal Control, said the dog was never vaccinated, so Bo will be in quarantine for 10 days to see if he has rabies. After those 10 days, Bo will be euthanized.

"This animal attacked with the intent to hurt that child," Hilton said. "And, unfortunately, he did."

She said Reaves Jr., who relinquished ownership of Bo to Animal Control, was given a $143 citation for not vaccinating Bo. Hilton said the child's mother, Mary Reaves, 24, declined to press any charges against her brother for improper confinement of a vicious animal. That fine would have been $260.

Hilton said this attack was severe and that Bo poses a serious risk to the public. She said pet owners should never use their limbs in games of tug-of-war with their pets.

Reaves Jr. didn't want to talk Tuesday.

"He's real upset," said his father, Reaves Sr. "We all are. This is tearing us all apart."

He said Dylan is doing well and has a cast on his leg. Although the registered nurse told authorities Dylan might have permanent damage, Reaves Sr. said he was told by doctors he won't. He said Dylan is still scared and confused and keeps asking why Bo did what he did.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6229.

Family's pet pit bull mauls Zephyrhills boy, 4, 10/20/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 20, 2009 9:40pm]

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