Pit bull attack in Merced prompts police response

A 55-year-old man suffered a bite on his arm early Tuesday in Merced when he was apparently attacked by a pit bull, the Merced Police Department said.

“It’s fortunate that no juveniles were attacked, as an adult is usually better able to protect themselves, but that does not minimize the importance of this incident as a public safety issue,” Capt. Bimley West said.

The owner of the female pit bull, Leonardo Castillo, 20, was ordered to keep the dog quarantined at home while police investigate. Investigators learned the dog was loose at the time of the attack, West said.

The victim was released after receiving treatment by paramedics on scene, at the 100 block of West 12 Street near H Street, officers said. Police responded to the incident at 1:23 a.m.

It was not immediately clear whether Castillo’s dog had been involved in similar incidents. Castillo could not immediately be reached for comment.

“The owner is ultimately responsible, and these situations could lead to a citation being issued or other actions to prevent these types of incidents from occurring in the future,” West said. “If an owner of an animal is not properly securing the animal, then the owner is being irresponsible.”

Officers on Tuesday were compiling reports on similar incidents from the last six months. West said police were working to determine what, if anything, could be done to reduce the number of animal attack incidents in Merced.

“People need to feel safe when they’re walking on the street,” West said, “when they’re out anywhere in the community.”