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Continued: Pit bull kills 7-year-old Minneapolis boy at home

  • Article by: TOM FORD and JOY POWELL , Star Tribune
  • Last update: August 17, 2007 - 5:11 PM

"We can't control what people do in their homes," Deegan said. "The important piece here is that this was an animal that belonged to these folks and tied off in their home. It's terrible, just a terrible tragedy."

It was Deegan who retrieved the dead dog from the basement, some time after the female and five puppies had been taken away. Though the dead dog was bloodied, there was nothing to immediately indicate that it was being bred to be aggressive for dog fights, he said.

Deegan said it seemed strange to chain up a dog in a house. "I own dogs. I don't tie them off in my house," he said. "It's odd. It'll be interesting to hear, when they're done with their investigation, just what the circumstances were."

Targeting specific breeds

In June, DFL state Rep. John Lesch announced that he will introduce legislation next year to ban chow chows, wolf hybrids, pit bulls, Akitas and Rottweilers.

Lesch was out of the country and couldn't be reached for comment about the fatal attack on Zachary.

Under Lesch's proposal, which is already stirring opposition from some animal advocates, anyone owning one of the banned dogs would be subject to misdemeanor charges and could face up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Keith Streff, director of investigations for the Animal Humane Society, which serves five metro counties, including Hennepin and Ramsey, said there's no doubt the fatal attack on Zachary will become a touchstone for public debate.

"This case will quite likely be an interesting paradigm in how this dog and this problem and this community issue is going to be addressed by local communities and law enforcements agencies," he said.

In Zachary's neighborhood, feelings ran high.

"I feel so sorry for the boy, but this is so preventable," said Marleen Witte. "It makes me angry. This should not have happened."

Witte, 55, who has lived on the block for 20 years, said the King family moved in about five years ago and that the father breeds pit bulls.

Another neighbor, Tacuma Elliott, 34, said Zachary King Sr. had cautioned neighbor children to always knock before entering the King house because of the dogs. "This is a really bad, terrible freak accident," she said.

Bert Robinson, a cousin of Zachary King Sr., described Zachary Jr. as a spunky, tenacious, but quiet boy who adored his father. "He hardly went anywhere without his dad," he said.

Reports of dog bites up

Last spring, two serious dog attacks within three weeks spurred Minneapolis officials to begin looking more closely at how the city can deal with dangerous dogs.

On March 26, Paula Ybarra, 37, was nearly killed by an American bulldog that weighed more than 150 pounds and a smaller pit bull. The dogs bit her in an unprovoked attack at a friend's house in northeast Minneapolis. Ybarra suffered severe injuries, including a crushed trachea, a hole in her esophagus and a crushed artery.

Both dogs had previously been deemed dangerous.

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