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Friday, August 12, 2011

Pit Bull That Killed Darla Napora Got Loose from Backyard While Officer Kept Watch

Posted By on Fri, Aug 12, 2011 at 2:40 PM

New details of the pit bull mauling emerge.
  • New details of the pit bull mauling emerge.

Gunner got loose before he was shot to death. ​Police defend their response.

Gunner, the pit bull who allegedly mauled a pregnant woman to death Thursday, escaped from the backyard while an officer was posted to keep an eye on it, Pacifica Police Captain Dave Bertini told SF Weekly.

When police responded to the house on a suburban street in Pacifica, Napora's husband, Greg, told officers that the dog was in a back room. Bertini says the officers discovered that the room's sliding door was open, and the dog had gone into the backyard. Bertini, who was on the scene, says he posted an officer at the back fence to ensure the dog didn't get out while animal care officers were on their way. 

But 10 to 15 minutes after the police first responded, "the gate came open. Whether it was the wind or the dog hit the latch, it came out from the backyard in the driveway and toward the front yard," Bertini says.

Inside, officers were attending to an unresponsive Napora in the front room. 

The officer notified "Dog loose!" Two officers shot Gunner dead with one bullet from a shotgun and two bullets from a handgun. The Peninsula Humane Society's senior vice president, Scott Delucchi, said the dog's necropsy was "getting under way" Friday afternoon. Veterinarians will take X-rays and recover the bullets, as well as check for medical abnormalities. The dog's brain will be sent to the county health department for rabies testing. 

Delucchi stresses that the medical examiner has not determined a cause of death for Napora. He says the family had two pit bulls; when the police arrived they saw Gunner, the unfixed male, hovering over her body. Tazi, the family's female, was cowering in the corner. Gunner was already dead by the time the Humane Society responders arrived. They took both animals away in separate compartments in the same vehicle.

Tazi is being kept at the Humane Society and looks uninjured, Delucchi says.

Bertini defended the shooting. The dog "was covered in blood. There was no way we were going to take chances of it getting loose into the neighborhood or attacking anyone." 

The police had never before gotten a report of Gunner acting aggressively, and Napora's husband didn't indicate the family had had had trouble before. Nor do the police suspect it had been used in dog fights, Bertini says.

"It looked like a family pet to me," he says. "There were pictures of the dog in the house. It had a dog bed in the house. It looked like a normal family pet."

Bertini says the officers had no particular procedure on how to handle a dog mauling, which he says he hasn't seen in his 25 years on the force.

"The response by the Pacifica Police Department was the utmost professional it could be," he says. "We don't need a specific procedure for this kind of call. There's no procedure at issue here."

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Lauren Smiley


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