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I.E. couple charged after 5 dogs attack kids

March 23, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Prosecutors have filed charges against a Fontana couple whose five dogs allegedly attacked a group of children, critically injuring a 5-year-old girl.Fontana police say Jose Lopez Gonzalez and Judith Mendoza Lopez were charged with seven counts of owning mischievous animals that caused great bodily injury.

Lopez Gonzalez, 49, was arrested at his home and was arraigned on Tuesday. He pleaded not guilty and remains in jail on $250,000 bail.

Mendoza Lopez, 55, is expected to turn herself in to police sometime on Wednesday.

A mother had been walking with her four children along the railroad tracks on Tokay Avenue, just south of Arrow Boulevard, when the dogs allegedly got out of the yard through a hole in the fence and attacked the family on Feb. 1.

Three children were injured in the attack. The youngest child, 5-year-old Destiny Colon, was injured so badly, she was put on a ventilator in the hospital for days and needed more than 230 stitches. There's no word on her current condition. The other two children were released from the hospital soon after the attack.

The family declined to speak with Eyewitness News Tuesday on orders from their attorney.

"I felt helpless like I couldn't help her, but I had to find my other kids and I was trying to help," the children's mother Josie Arellano said outside the hospital on Feb. 2.

Fontana police say it's one of the worst attacks they've ever seen.

"It was more vicious than anything we've seen before because of just the nature of it. A pack of dogs, and it wasn't just a bite and grab. It was a continual attack on the family," said Sgt. Jeff Decker of the Fontana Police Department.

Among the dogs that attacked, one was shot and killed when it charged a police officer. The other four Pit Bulls and Mastiffs were euthanized.

"I still think about the children, and fortunately they're recovering, but certainly it's not something I'm going to forget anytime soon, probably one of the worst bite cases I've responded too," said Fontana Animal Services officer Jamie Simmons.

Simmons says by law, owners need to make sure their animals are properly secured. Owners can also be charged for allowing animals to become overly aggressive.

"It's my opinion that these dogs were not pets. These were just backyard dogs, kind of left to run on their own," said Simmons. "And often as we know dogs are very territorial, and if those behaviors aren't corrected early on, then you've created basically a backyard monster."

If convicted of all charges, both suspects could get seven years behind bars.