Published February 19, 2013
A 2-year-old boy in Sabinal, Texas was killed by a pitbull while he chased a balloon into his neighbor’s front yard.
Isaiah Ray Aguilar was playing with his brother in the front yard when the balloon blew toward the home of the next door neighbor and onto the path of a chained pitbull. The dog attacked the boy, who screamed for help as his relatives – and the dog’s owner – looked on.
Isaiah’s family ran toward him and another neighbor administered CPR, but it was too late, said Sabinal Mayor Louis Landeros, Jr.
The case has pitted neighbor against neighbor in this small town in Texas, which has a population of 1,700. And it also has prompted questions on whether anti-tethering laws go far enough to protect the town’s children.
The dog has not been euthanized, and city officials say they don’t believe they have the right to put the dog to sleep. The dog owner will not face charges, Landeros said.
Landeros said the dog was tied up properly – and the dog owner seemed to comply with all the city rules.
“It is my understanding that the child walked right into the pitbull,” Landeros told Fox News Latino. “We are not playing the blame game here. There is an ordinance. [But] the animal was tied up.”
Landeros said the town is divided over the case, with half demanding the dog’s owner be brought to justice while others saying the owner did all he could. There will be a town hall meeting this week to discuss Isaiah’s death and the city’s pet laws.
“One side [of the community] wants to ban the animal and the other thinks it’s parents negligence,” said Landeros. “This morning there was a meeting with the District Attorney to decide what to do with the animal.”
The local government has donated money to the Aguilar family to help them cover funeral and medical costs.
Local officials insist they cannot charge the owner criminally because he followed an ordinance that required that pets be chained while they are at home.
But Colleen Lynn, who runs DogBites.org, a Texas-based organization that tracks fatal dog attacks, said the ordinance should even further – requiring that dog owners build a fence around their yards in addition to having their dogs chained.
“Anti-tethering laws are making headway in the south. What it does is it forces the owner to build a fence but humane groups don’t want to see dogs tethered at all,” Lynn said. “When the (dogs) are chained up it usually means they are breeding them. This family was breeding.”
Lynn said fatal attacks in Texas involving children and dogs happen about three to seven times a year. Nationally, she said, they occur about 32 to 35 times a year. Pitbulls – which are banned in some cities and countries because, some say, of their violent tendencies – account for 60 percent of human deaths nationwide, she said.
Lynn said from her own research she heard the owner of dog that killed Isaiah owns two pitbulls, a male and female, for breeding purposes. She said the female dog was the one that attacked Isaiah.
For the family members who lost Isaiah, the pain has been unbearable.
“They cry and cry,” Guadalupe Gonzales, Isaiah’s maternal great grandmother, told Fox News Latino.
Services for the boy will be Wednesday. She said the family was trying to stay strong.
"They are OK," she said.