Ok, if this isn't a clear cut case of child endangerment, I don't know what is. What was this woman thinking??? Crossposted.
Mother shut boy in basement to protect him from pit bull
12-year-old was killed by family dog; owner sees loss as tragic accident but defends breed as making good pets
- C.W. Nevius and Cecilia M. Vega, Chronicle Staff Writers
Sunday, June 12, 2005
Hours before being mauled to death by the family pit bull, 12-year-old Nicholas Faibish had been told to stay in the basement separated from the dogs, said his distraught mother, Maureen Faibish, who called The Chronicle on Saturday, trying to make sense of what she called a "freak accident.''
"I put him down there, with a shovel on the door,'' said Faibish, who had left the boy alone with the dogs on June 3 to run some errands. "He had a bunch of food. And I told him, 'Stay down there until I come back.' Typical Nicky, he wouldn't listen to me.''
Faibish said she was concerned that the male pit bull, Rex, was acting possessive because the female, Ella, was in heat. Apparently, Nicholas found a way to get the door open and come upstairs. At that point Faibish believes he walked in while the dogs were mating and was attacked by Rex.
"It was Rex, I know it in my heart,'' Faibish said. "My younger dog (Ella) was in heat and anyone who came near her, Rex saw as a threat. He may have been trying to mate. It was a freak accident. It was just the heat of the moment.''
Faibish felt compelled to call The Chronicle, she said, because she was upset by comments in a Saturday column that disparaged family members who own pit bulls.
In the column an Oakland surgeon who often treats bites by pit bulls said, "when you have an animal like that in your house you are recklessly endangering your family.''
"They made it sound like we put our kids in a war zone,'' Faibish said in a phone conversation. "That's not true. My kids got along great with (the dogs). We were never seeing any kind of violent tendencies.''
Authorities on Saturday said they had no indication that the dogs had bitten Nicholas prior to the attack, but may have menaced him previously.
On the day of the attack, Maureen Faibish arrived at the family home at 711 Lincoln Way about 3:15 p.m. to discover her son's lifeless body in a front bedroom. His face had been mauled, and he was covered with bite wounds and had a hole in his scalp from the attack.
She hasn't been allowed back into the home because of the police investigation, she said. She has been staying with her father, who lives a few blocks away.
She talked to The Chronicle by telephone and later at her father's home where, sitting on a couch and wrapped in a blanket, Faibish held back tears as she spoke about her son and the day he died.
"It's Nicky's time to go," she said. "When you're born you're destined to go and this was his time."
After police were called to the family's home the day of the attack, an officer shot and killed Ella when the dog prevented him from entering the apartment. Rex was captured in the backyard and taken to the animal shelter.
The family had been packing for a move, and her husband, Steve Faibish, was out of town. Their two other children were also not home.
Maureen Faibish said she put Nicholas rather than the dogs in the basement because the room, which also served as a playroom for the children, was filled with plastic bags in preparation of their move. She figured the dogs would have destroyed the bags filled with clothes.
Before she left the house, Faibish sent her 9-year-old son to the store to buy Nicholas a soda, bagel and chips. He also had video games to keep him busy.
"Nicky was happy down there," she said.
Faibish declined to say what triggered such concern that she insisted her son stay in the basement, away from the dogs.
"I don't want to go into any of that detail," she said. "That's between me and the detectives."
Clearly struggling with her emotions, Faibish said the death of her son had become "a media frenzy.'' On one hand, she continued to defend pit bulls and her dogs.
"Even after the whole thing,'' she said, "I'm not mad at my dogs. I just love them to death.''
Nicky had not known life without pit bulls, she said. When he was a baby, the family had Rex 1.
Ella and Rex II were "family dogs," Faibish said. They spent most of their time inside the house, slept in bed with the children every night and woke Maureen Faibish up every morning by licking her face. Ella was trained to lick her makeup off and kiss her ear.
"The police killed the wrong dog if you ask me," Faibish said.
She would never want Rex back in their house.
"Absolutely not,'' Faibish said. "I told them I wanted him put down. I think of Rex as someone who molested my child, murdered my child.''
Faibish's comments captured the confusion and mixed feelings pit bulls can bring out in their owners. She spoke of Rex waking Nicholas and her up in the morning by licking their faces.
"He's the most loving and giving dog in the world,'' she insisted. "There were no violent tendencies in him at all.''
Nor, she said, would she caution families who have pit bulls as pets. In the wake of this tragedy, some parents are wondering if they should keep their pit bulls.
"Oh, they should keep their pit bulls,'' Faibish said. "Even though my son has been killed in a tragic accident, I don't think they should be banned. You've just got to worry about them when they are in heat. I didn't know Rex was going to be so possessive.''
Faibish said she and her husband decided not to spay or neuter their dogs because they wanted their puppies. She said Rex had been eager to mate with Ella, but the female dog was resisting his advances.
"I used to say to Ella, just go ahead and let him do it," Faibish said. "Get it over with.''
Deeply remorseful, Faibish says she continues to think of what she might have done differently. For one, she wishes she'd persuaded Nicholas to go to a picnic with his younger sister, Ashley.
But she insists, "I have no regrets about that day," Faibish said.
She's also fed up with the second-guessing from public figures who, she feels, do not understand the situation. She says San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who made strong comments about restricting pit bulls, got an earful when he called.
"Just for the record, I yelled at Gavin Newsom,'' she said. "I told him off. How dare him say anything about my family?"
Newsom spokesman Peter Ragone said Saturday the mayor is deeply remorseful over her loss.
"Certainly, she's going through a very difficult time, and we extend our deepest sympathy to her for her loss," said Ragone.
Ragone said the mayor must also consider what policies should be taken regarding the wider issue of public safety.
"There's no question about the fact that the mayor, like most in the city, believe actions must be taken to prevent tragedies like this from occurring in the future," Ragone said.
While the public debate about pit bulls rages on, Faibish is left with the memories of her son, a popular and good-natured sixth-grader at Roosevelt Middle School.
"This isn't about a dog,'' she said. "This is about my boy. My precious little boy.''