Officials say a pit bull owned by a San Mateo police officer fatally bit his 6-year-old nephew. Jodi Hernandez reports.
The pit bull that bit a 6-year-old boy to death on Monday is owned by a San Mateo police officer, NBC Bay Area has learned, and it was his nephew who was killed by the family pet, "Kava."
That information came from a relative and high-profile attorney Michael Rains, who represents police officers throughout the Bay Area and beyond. Rains was seen Tuesday walking into the Union City home where Nephi Selu was fatally attacked Monday about 11:30 a.m. at a home on Elizabeth Way.
Nephi died at Lucille Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto at 2 p.m. the same day.
Police Cmdr. Ben Horner said it looked as though the boy had been bitten on the head by the dog after he had been"actively playing" with the pet. Horner said it looked as though the boy may have tried to climb on the dog's back right before the fatal bite.
"It's a mystery as to why the dog chose yesterday to bite the young man," Horner said.
Aunt Iona Keanaaina, who is married to the San Mateo police officer, said that her family is so upset, they don't care what happens to the pit bull mix named "Kava."
She said Nephi, who just graduated kindergarten in Union City, was an only child and lived with his extended family - including her seven children - at the same home. She said her husband has been a police officer for nine years.
Neighbors said that they knew there were two dogs in the house. "The family is just devastated," said neighbor Kathy Duncan. "They never caused anybody any problems."
Police said that the dog was taken to the Tri-City Animal shelter and held for a routine 10-day quarantine.
The dog's owner was in full compliance with anti-rabies shots and licensing requirements and was "distraught but cooperative" during the police investigation. Police said the owner said the dog had never bitten anyone in the past.
Pit bull deaths always ignite a firestorm of controversy among the breed's supporters, who argue that pit bulls are not to blame - it's usually the owners who don't treat them well, and critics, who argue that the breed is inherently aggressive.
According to DogsBite.org, a national organization dedicated to reducing serious dog attacks, there were 38 fatal dog attacks last year. Pit bulls contributed to 23 of those deaths.
Anyone with information about this should call Union City police at 510-471-1365.