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June 07 2007 - Philadelphia man let pit bull loose on boy, police say

June 07 2007 - Philadelphia man let pit bull loose on boy, police say

<!-- @page { size: 8.5in 11in; margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } -->A child was bitten by a pit bull, and a man was arrested because police said he let the dog loose on the boy. Alex Melendez, 12, was never afraid of dogs. Now, he's not so sure. "I don't want pit bulls around me any more," he said. The 12-year-old said a man commanded the pit bull to attack him Tuesday at about lunchtime while he was riding his bike in a Reading neighborhood. "They took the dog out, off the leash, and they said, 'Get 'em, boy.' Then, the dog came after me at the corner. It just bit me for no reason," Alex said. "It wouldn't let go, so I kicked it." There's a visible wound where the pit bull clamped down on Alex's leg. He'll be fine, but the pain makes him limp. The man accused of unleashing the dog, 33-year-old William Lamp, was taken into custody charged with aggravated assault, police said. "My uncle would never sic an animal on a younger kid. He's not like that," said Felicia Hatfield, whose mother owns the pit bull. The 8-year-old female named Ellie has since been quarantined at the Humane Society. Felicia said Ellie had never attacked anyone before and claims the boy was harassing the dog before it broke loose and attacked. "That kid always comes down here at my house every day and always messes with my dog," Felicia said. Neighbors on the block were divided on who was to blame. "I know they're not the kind of people who would tell the dog, 'Go bite the kid,' or something like that, you know what I mean? So, to me, I was just thinking that the kid probably did something to the dog," said neighbor Javier Diaz. Some were just happy to see the dog gone. "I see him always, the dog, running away after people, and I don't like it because I've got my kids, there's a lot of kids around it can bite," said a woman. While humane officers said it was unlikely the pit bull will return to the block, Alex's mother said she was out to make sure it doesn't. "All the neighbors have to get together and sign a protest saying we can't have those types of dogs here on the block," the mother said through a translator. Humane Society officials said this was the third dog attack in Reading in two weeks, and they were saying don't blame the breed -- blame the dog owner, NBC 10's Stacey Weaver reported. Reading has had 27 dog bite victims this year. If that number hits 30, the city will enact an "aggressive dog ordinance." If it's proven that pit bulls were responsible for 40 percent of the bites -- and at this point they are -- owners of pit bulls and pit bull-mixes would have to follow special rules, including having special licenses. They would also have to chain leash their dogs and keep them muzzled, according to the city ordinance passed in 1988.

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