Recovering: Arnell Astwood with her son Arnezha, nine, who was attacked by two pit bulls at the weekend. He needed two hours of surgery for injuries to his head, neck, chest and left hand. The dogs’ owner kept the animals without a licence. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
Recovering: Arnell Astwood with her son Arnezha, nine, who was attacked by two pit bulls at the weekend. He needed two hours of surgery for injuries to his head, neck, chest and left hand. The dogs’ owner kept the animals without a licence. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
FRIDAY APR. 29: The mom of a nine-year-old boy mauled by two pit bull terriers has called for the dogs to be put to sleep.

She also wants the breed to be sterilized in Bermuda to ensure the breed is wiped out on the island.

Arnell Astwood said: “The dogs who did this should definitely be put down — they are bad dogs.

“I was brought up around pit bulls. They are vicious if allowed to be vicious.

“Some people have given pit bulls a bad name.

“I wouldn’t want owners of pit bulls to just have their dogs taken from them.

“But they should be allowed to die out naturally.

Neutered

“Any examples should be neutered and they should never be replaced in Bermuda.

“I hope this never happens again to someone else’s child.

“I wouldn’t want any parent to go through this.”

Ms Astwood spoke out after her nine-year-old son, Arnezha, was attacked by two pit bulls on Saturday.

He was playing football in the family’s back yard in St David’s when a shot landed in nearby trees and he went through neighbour Gary Blackwell’s back yard to  retrieve it. He was attacked by two of his three pit bulls seconds later.

Ms Astwood said: “He thought he was going to die — I’m just grateful he is still alive.”

Arnezha is sure two dogs attacked him.

He was treated at the Lamb Foggo Urgent Care Centre before being transferred to the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. He endured two hours of surgery for injuries to his head, neck, chest and left hand and will be off school for at least 10 days.

Ms Astwood said: “He has had his ups and downs but he is managing.

“An attack can come from any kind of dog, not just pit bulls, but it is the owner’s responsibility to do something about them and make sure they don’t do this kind of thing.”

Kim Sherlaw, director of the SPCA, said: “Spaying and neutering is a good idea but it would have to be enforced. It could mean that, over time, pit bulls would be eradicated. But we wouldn’t support a complete ban on any breed.”

Blackwell, 22, of St David’s, admitted at Magistrates’ Court on Monday that one of his dogs, a cross-breed pit bull called Max, was responsible for the attack.

He also confessed to keeping the dogs without a licence and keeping more than two dogs without permission from animal protection authorities.

Blackwell told the court he had three dogs and that Max was normally kept indoors and only allowed outside on a chain for toilet purposes.

Animal protection officers seized the other two dogs — an 18-month-old pit bull bitch and a six-month-old pit bull — because neither had a licence.

Fine

Blackwell said the attack was “bad luck” and apologised. He was ordered to pay Arnezha’s medical expenses and could face a fine of up to $10,000 when he is sentenced on May 9.

Government restricted the importation and breeding of dogs of “questionable temperament”, such as pit bulls, bull terriers, mastiffs and rottweilers in 2003.

Ms Sherlaw said: “Because of the ban, the breed has gone underground. They aren’t socialised because they are kept out of sight.

“Also, tethering a dog or boxing it is acceptable in Bermuda and that also creates behavioural problems. We are always looking to educate people on the proper care of dogs.”