BATH, N.Y. -- The Steuben County District Attorney’s office today will begin reviewing the fatal pit bull mauling of a 6-year-old Bath boy.

Ed. note: With 2 breakouts at end

The Steuben County District Attorney’s office today will begin reviewing the fatal pit bull mauling of a 6-year-old Bath boy.

The boy -- Saben W. Jones-Abbot -- was feeding the family’s 6-month-old pit bull on late Sunday morning when the attack occurred.

Deputies reported the boy’s father found the child lying unresponsive on the ground near the dog. The boy was later pronounced dead at Ira Davenport Hospital in Bath and taken to the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office in Rochester for an autopsy.

Assistant District Attorney Michael McCartney said Monday initial findings by deputies and the county’s SPCA animal cruelty investigator will be reviewed by District Attorney John Tunney some time today.
“We want to make sure all the information is available and carefully studied before any determination is made,” McCartney said.
The dog was removed from the residence and euthanized at the owner’s request, according to county Sheriff Richard Tweddell. It was sent to the medical examiner’s office Monday, and a report from that office is due today.

But it may be several days before officials release final information on Saben's death, officials said.
While officials did not identify the boy’s parents, other sources said Monday the child’s parents are William Abbott and Sunny Jones of East William Street Extension, commonly known as Lake Salubria.

Meanwhile, questions have been raised about the breed of dog responsible for the child’s death.

Pit bulls have gained notoriety in recent years as an aggressive, dangerous dog.

Three years ago in the village of Savona, pit bulls crossed several yards and killed a chained, 7-year-old female German Shepherd.

“I was pregnant at the time, and I’d just left the house with my little girl,” said the dog’s owner, Teresa Soporowski. “It’s lucky I did, because they probably would have gone after (us), too.”

Katherine Houpt, animal behaviorist at Cornell University’s School of Veterinary Medicine, said pit bulls were originally used in bull fights and dog fights.

“They have not been bred to be family pets,” Houpt said. “Their primary function is to kill other dogs and other rapidly fleeing animals, like cats.”

Haupt said owners should begin training pit bulls from the time they are puppies.

“And their first aggression is over food,” she said.

Elaine Walker, director of the Chemung County Humane Society and SPCA Inc., said pit bulls require extra intensive training and socialization to interact safely with people.

“All I know there are some very bad dog owners,” Walker said. “And some really, really nice pit bulls.”

However, an untrained pit bull can cause more damage than other dogs due to the unusual dynamics of the dog’s jaws, which lock after biting, Walker said.

“They’re just built genetically that way,” she said.

Soporowski said the idea of training a pit bull is a myth.

“I’ve heard all that, and I don’t care if Mary Poppins was raising it,” she said.

The Leader, Corning, N.Y.


Dog-related fatalities 1979-1998

Mixed-breed pit bulls killed 101 people.

Purebred pit bulls killed 66 people

Mixed breed German Shepherds killed 101 people

Purebred German Shepherds killed 39 people

All Rottweilers killed 90 people

The majority of those fatalities were children under the age of 11.

Source: Center for Disease Control


Fatal attacks 2000-07

Number of all breeds fatal dog attacks in U.S. per year

Year, Fatalites

2000, 19  
2001, 23
2002, 15
2003, 26
2004, 22
2005, 28
2006, 31
2007, 18

Source: National Canine Research Council