Two pit bulls involved in the mauling of a 10-year-old boy in Antioch last month will be humanely euthanized, a city appeals board ruled this afternoon. The decision came during a hearing in Antioch appealing a decision by Antioch Animal Services to put the dogs to death based on a determination that they are “vicious animals,” according to city officials. On Aug. 11, 10-year-old Hunter Kilbourn of Martinez was visiting family friends at their home on Reseda Way when he was attacked by their two pit bulls, Jewels and Duke, according to an Animal Services report.
The mauling left Hunter with serious injuries including multiple bites and lacerations and a partially severed ear. He was airlifted to Children’s Hospital in Oakland where he underwent two surgeries and has since been released. The dogs also bit one of the children living at the home during the incident, inflicting minor injuries, according to the Animal Services report. Both dogs were quarantined after an investigation into the attack.
The pit bulls’ owners, Courtney and Roderick De La Cruz, told Animal Services that only the female dog, Jewels, attacked Hunter and that Duke should not be put down, their attorney Mark McLaughlin said. The attorney said the couple maintains that Hunter slapped Jewels in the face, prompting the attack. However, Animal Services ultimately deemed both dogs “vicious animals” and determined the pair should be euthanized, a determination that was upheld at today’s hearing.
Melody Ralls, Hunter’s mother, said the ruling gives her a sense of closure. “It’s like closing one more chapter of this horrible tragedy, and from now on we can focus on Hunter and getting him healed,” she said. “Hunter was a survivor and if they would’ve gotten those dogs back, the next victim may not have been,” she added. Ralls said that while the dogs that attacked her son will no longer be a threat, the effects of the mauling will linger.
Hunter, who has not been fully medically cleared to return to his fourth-grade classroom in Martinez full-time, must still undergo a series of cosmetic and skin graft surgeries, his mother said. In addition, he now suffers from anxiety and nightmares prompted by the attack, she said. “He’s such a strong boy and I admire him so much — for everything he’s been through I’m amazed at how well he is doing,” Ralls said.
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