Animals

County Animal Control Officers Investigate Valley Center Mauling

County animal control officers are investigating after a pack of dogs attacked a family of runners in Valley Center Sunday evening, sending two adult brothers to the hospital.

County animal control officers are investigating after a pack of dogs attacked a family of runners in Valley Center Sunday evening, sending two adult brothers to the hospital.

Four 7-month-old pit bull mixes that lived on a property close to where the mauling occurred were euthanized Sunday night, Department of Animal Services spokesman Lt. Dan DeSousa said. The owner relinquished the dogs to animal control officers and requested the euthanasia in the hours following Sunday’s attack, DeSousa said.

The four animals had not been confined on the property, DeSousa said. The owner told animal control officers that three other dogs at the home were restrained at the time of the attack, with two tied up in the yard and one in the house, DeSousa said.

Animal Control officers will show the victims photos of the four pit bulls. If the victims identify the dogs as the ones that attacked them, the owner could face criminal charges ranging from misdemeanor leash law violations to felonies, DeSousa said.

Animal control officers have responded to past complaints at the same address, DeSousa said. If the investigation finds those calls involved the same dogs or the same owner, any criminal charges would likely be more serious, he said.

Dog owners have a legal responsibility to make sure their dogs are properly confined so they can’t bother or hurt people, DeSousa said.

“Owners need to make sure their dogs are confined to their property and they do not interfere with the public doing the things they want to do, like jogging,” DeSousa said. “That goes for Chihuahuas up to pit bulls and great Danes.”

On Sunday night, about 5:35 p.m., Richard Garritson, 21, was out running with his adult siblings and a 9-year-old niece on Cobb Lane near Valley Center Middle School when a pack of dogs attacked, family members said in published interviews.

Garritson is a competitive runner from a family of competitive runners who often train together, according to reports.    

As Garritson was being badly mauled, he reportedly urged his siblings and niece to run away. John Garritson, 20, was also bitten when he stayed behind to help his brother to safety.

Richard and John Garritson were taken by helicopter to the hospital. Both remained hospitalized Monday, Richard with serious leg injuries, relatives told local media.

When Sheriff’s deputies responded to the mauling Sunday, the victims showed them which property the dogs had come from, Sheriff’s spokeswoman Melissa Aquino said. Deputies notified County animal control.