Greg Napora, whose pregnant wife was by one of their pet pit bulls Thursday, was reunited with the other family pit bull late Monday afternoon.
Officials said yesterday the six-year-old female pit, Tazi, in the fatal mauling of 32-year-old Darla Napora by an unneutered two-year-old male named Gunner.
The victim died of blood loss and shock from dog bites, show.
Scott Delucchi, spokesman for the Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA, said that his organization wanted to be sure that Tazi wasn’t dangerous before returning her to her owner.
“We needed to know that the second dog was not involved in the attack before we decided to return it to its owner,” Delucchi said. “We also wanted to hear that the owner wanted the dog back.”
The Humane Society learned early on, soon after his wife’s death, that Greg Napora wanted Tazi back.
After medical examiners and odontologists - bite experts - used teeth impressions taken from both dogs to show in preliminary autopsy results that only the male pit bull was involved in the attack, and after Tazi had been observed for signs of aggression, the Humane Society had to give the dog back to her owner, Delucchi said.
“We had to rely on these outside experts,” he said, “and the husband who came home, he saw his one dog over his wife, said the other dog (Tazi) was not even in the same room but was cowering in the corner in a different room. Whether she wasn’t in there from the beginning of the attack, that’s inconclusive.”
That information, along with the Humane Society’s own observations and investigation, which included checking for signs that the dogs had been abused, that they had been taken on regular vet trips, that they were registered in San Mateo County, and checking with neighbors for any indication that the dogs were neglected, led to Tazi’s release.
Delucchi said that some of Napora’s neighbors in Pacifica's Vallemar District called the Humane Society after the dog’s release to say they were uncomfortable with the dog’s release, and were concerned the dog wasn’t safe.
“But I also think of someone who loses his wife, unborn child and other dog in one day,” Delucchi said. “So maybe that second dog is all he’s got. So, we’re trying to think out it that way. I’m asking people to be compassionate.”
Nevertheless, he understands neighbors’ concerns, Delucchi said.
“You can never predict future behavior (of dogs),” he said. “We cannot say for sure we know what a dog will do. We can only judge the grounds for holding a dog; we had no legal authority.”
Thursday’s incident has reignited the debate over whether pit bulls ought to be banned and whether the breed is inherently dangerous, a debate seen now on Pacifica Patch’s comment boards and elsewhere. When asked to weigh in, Delucchi said his organization sees the problem primarily lying with the owner.
“We see so many wonderful pit bulls,” he said. “People here at work have them, we adopt them out, we see them become search and rescue dogs, pet assistance therapy animals that enter schools and libraries, so many wonderful ones. We also see them end up with the wrong people and do bad things. If it wasn’t pit bulls, people would do something awful to another breed, it’s a people problem.”
Still, an ill-treated pit bull is very dangerous indeed, he said.
“Nobody can deny that pit bulls are physiologically built differently,” he said. “The jaws are aligned differently, they do more damage, but we also know that all dogs bite.”
One thing pit bull owners can do to make sure their dog is safer is to get it neutered,” Delucchi said.
“Neutering makes it safer, it does, it’s one of those things that nobody can really deny,” he said. “A dog that is not neutered produces testosterone.”
More testosterone, he said, usually equals more aggression.
Also, Delucchi advises pet owners to observe their animals for changes in behavior. If the changes seem negative or even odd, correct them immediately, or see a vet.
If your dog used to greet visitors at the door, for instance, but now puts his tail between his legs and hides from visitors, it could be a bad sign. Problems like these don’t just work themselves out, Delucchi said.
The Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA offers an incentive program for pit bull owners to get their pets neutered; the organization will actually pay the owner $10 for the procedure. There’s also a mobile neuter clinic that travels around San Mateo County at which owners can drop their pets off in the morning for a free procedure.
For more information on spay and neuter programs provided by the Peninsula Humane Society, including the mobile neuter clinic that visits several parts of San Mateo County, go to the Humane Society’s website.