Pit bull fatally mauls child

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Early Monday morning, a life just begun was stolen.

Just before 9 a.m., police were called to the 6000 block of Whaleyville Boulevard, where 2-year-old Jonathan Martin had been attacked by the family pet, a pit bull mix. The toddler was flown by Nightingale to Sentara Norfolk General

Hospital, where he died around 11 a.m.

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&uot;Apparently, the parents were upstairs and came down to find that the child had been bitten multiple times,&uot; said Lt. Debbie J. George, spokeswoman for the Suffolk Police Department. The male dog, named Ox, was a stray the family had taken in about 18 months ago.

Along with Ox, the family’s other dog and four puppies – all pet bull mixes – were removed from the residence by Suffolk Animal Control.

The child’s parents, Heather (last name unavailable at press time) and Jonathan Martin, could not be reached for comment,. The couple also has a younger son, Daniel.

As of late Monday, no charges had been filed against the parents. A sign on the door of the family’s two-story house declared the property to be temporarily unsafe.

&uot;That boy was as nice as he could be,&uot; said Heather’s great-uncle Percy Connor. &uot;The first time he saw me, he came up to me like he knew me all his life. He was real playful.

&uot;It’s torn (Heather’s) granddaddy up. He’s almost 80, and he thought the world of that child.

&uot;That dog was an accident waiting to happen. He ran after me and my wife, showing his teeth.&uot;

Animal control officer Harry White, who estimated the dog was 3 or 4 years old, said that it was the first such incident he could remember in the area. It was unknown whether Ox or the other dogs would be euthanized.

&uot;I’m not a big fan of pit bulls,&uot; said Mayor Bobby Ralph. &uot;Pit bulls by nature are aggressive dogs. It’s sickening to have this happen to a child.

&uot;My condolences are with the family.&uot;