Young Runners Attacked By Pack of Pit Bulls

Richard Garritson (furthest back)

A 21-year-old man out running with his sisters and brother was attacked by at least six pit bulls late Sunday afternoon. Richard Garritson, 21, was on a trail in Valley Center when a pack of dogs pinned him down and attacked. His family members tried to stop the attack.

Garritson was running on trails with family members about 4:30 p.m. when three barking dogs appeared, he said. He was ahead of his sister Meagan, and he turned back to check on her and shoo them away. Then he saw five or six dogs running out of the brush.

One bit a leg, and second dog clamped down on the other leg, knocking him to the ground. He yelled for his sister to run as he tried to fight off the dogs.

He said the pack surrounded him and snapped at his arms as well. One bit him under his right armpit near the shoulder blade.

“I was terrified,” he said. “I thought I was going to die. They just kept biting at my legs and thighs.”

Garritson said he was running out of energy to mount much of a defense because he had already run three miles. He yelled for his brother, who had been ahead with the others. Garritson said he was unsure if John could even hear him. John ran back and grabbed a stick to try to stop the dogs, but they attacked him, Richard said.

The dogs kept going back and forth between the two brothers, Garritson said. They knew the house where the dogs lived and yelled for their owner. Garritson said the man walked toward them and managed to get some back to the house, but three remained. Finally the owner put a leash one of the bigger dogs, Garritson said, and the others broke off the attack. San Diego Union-Tribune, 28 Nov 2011.

Four of the dogs, all under a year old, were euthanized after the attack. The owner has not yet been charged with a crime.

This isn’t the first pit bull attack in the Orange County area. In October, Darla Napora, a 32-year-old pregnant woman, was mauled to death by a pit bull she owned. Investigators were unable to determine a cause of the attack. Napora died of massive blood loss and shock. recommends the following steps to prevent a dog attack:

Stand still.
Don’t approach, pet, or talk to the animal–but don’t run away either. “Dogs are pursuit predators with a chase reflex,” Dr. Fetko says. “Keep quiet, and stand at a 90-degree angle [sideways] to the dog. You should see him in your peripheral vision without facing or looking at him directly.”

Minimize injury.
“If you’re being bitten and the dog doesn’t release, slowly move closer,” says Dr. Fetko. “The worst damage occurs when you try to pull away or the dog shakes its head.”

Then yell.
A biting dog may respond to a loud, authoritative “No, back!”