INDIO, Calif. - Two boys in Indio continued to recover Monday night from bite wounds after they were attacked by a pit bull over the weekend.
A Riverside County Animal Services officer responded to a property on Avenue 43 in Indio, near Burr Street and south of Interstate 10 Saturday, after receiving a call from the Indio Police Department about the incident.
"I guess that happens when the owners don't take full responsibility of their dogs," said the boys uncle, Eddie Cardenas.
He says his two nephews wanted to go to the park Saturday afternoon, but decided to stop at a friend's house first...
"His little friend answered the door, the mom was behind him with the dog. She had the dog by the leash..." he said. That's when the pit bull broke free and lunged at the boys.
The 11-year-old suffered bites to his stomach and hand, but his wounds were described as small punctures, and he was quickly treated and released from the hospital.
The 5-year-old, however, suffered severe bites to the back of the head. The child was taken to Loma Linda where he received 61 stitches and 21 staples.
"My little nephew, the one that got bit in the head, he's not doing so well, he's pretty traumatized," Cardenas added.
He's also upset the dog had attacked before. In April, the animal bit the dog owner's son in the head, but at the time the family didn't surrender it to Riverside County Animal Services.
Animal officials say dog owners have the right to their dog depending on the severity of a bite/attack, and whether the animal has had any prior incidents. After the April bite, animal services impounded the dog and it was only released back to the owner, after a public hearing, with a "potentially dangerous dog restraining order" against it.
The dog owner's family told CBS Local 2/News Channel 3, they had never had issues with the dog prior to the April attack. They say the dog had been neutered the day before, and believed that may have made the animal aggressive. Due to the circumstances, they kept the dog.
Frank Corvino, deputy director with Riverside County Animal Services said over the past three months there's been an increase in pit bull attacks in the county. They've recorded 358 dog attacks so far, 71 of which involved pit bulls.
Indio had 23 dog attacks since May, that involved 8 pit bulls.17 of the victims were adults, 6 of them were either children or teens.
Corvino said these types of dogs were bred over time to bite.
"There's a whole debate on that but it all goes back to genetics. They have been bred to bite, to attack small animals. They've actually been bred to get along with human beings, but they don't always see smaller human beings such as children as the adult person they're suppose to be getting along with, they see them as a prey sometimes," Corvino said,
The county has pursued some legislative and local changes and mandatory spay and neuter for pit bulls and other breeds predisposed to bite, but Corvino said in the end its up the dog owner to be educated, especially if the dog had a previous incident.
"If you're going to own that type of breed you need to be educated on it, you need to know what to with it if folks come by, you need to know your dog inside and out, and be aware of the genetics," he said.
The boys uncle said the dog owner was very concerned and visited the family to check on the boys.
They surrendered the dog and animal services humanely euthanized the animal.
"It makes me feel a little better I guess that they actually got rid of the dog," Cardenas said.