09/12/08: The owner of two pit bulls that mauled Belle has received four "commonplace" citations, according to Pima Animal Control. Diodati, who used his pocketknife to fend off the attacking dogs, killed both pit bulls. The dogs' owner, Geoff Carter, 28, was cited for two violations per dog: one each for not following the leash law and for having a biting dog.
Given that two boys and a dog were attacked by the pit bulls, "commonplace" citations seem grossly inadequate. That said, had one or both of the boys been maimed or killed, the same tickets likely would have resulted -- nothing more. Like many places, Pima County laws, serve only to protect owners of dangerous dogs. They do not address the seriousness of pit bull injury to human beings or pets.
09/11/08: Handy Knife Saves Beagle
Diodati, known by his middle name, Moses, was out walking last week with his friend Jeff Dolph, 15-years old, and the Dolph family's beagle, Belle. The subdivision was quiet as usual when the teens saw two pit bulls approach on the street. "At first they were just sniffing and circling the dog," Diodati said. "Then they started attacking Belle."
Diodati and Dolph began punching and kicking the pit bulls, but the dogs would not release the 2-year-old beagle. "I was kicking one pit bull so hard that all four of its feet were in the air," Diodati said, "but it still wouldn't let go." He said that's when Dolph started to panic and the boys realized the dogs would not give up until Belle was dead. Diodati then pulled out his 4-inch folding knife.
Diodati said it was an "intense thing." But Belle was going to die if he did not act. He began stabbing the more aggressive pit bull, a brown one, first under the ribs and then slicing at its throat. When it began to falter, Diodati stepped on its head. Only in death did it let go of Belle. He stabbed the second dog, a white one, about three times until it ran off. Authorities later found it dead.
We repeat: Only in death did the pit bull let go.
Melissa Diodati, the boy's mother said there was blood everywhere. She ran to the scene after a phone call from her son. Belle was rushed to the vet and is recovering slowly. Dolph's dad, Johnny Ray Dolph, said the vet lost count of how many stitches Belle needed. "I started counting the staples and lost count at 50." Belle's legs were injured the most, particularly on one knee. Her neck was spared thanks to a thick collar.
The two boys' hands were purple and swollen after the attack. They needed X-rays. Their shoes were wrecked; their pants were ripped. "This is the most traumatic thing we've ever been through," his Dad said. The family awaits test results from the Pima Animal Care Center to find out if Jeff Dolph will need anti-rabies shots. Both families consider the quick actions of the boys to be brave and heroic.
We imagine they also consider what might have happened without that knife.
08/02/08: Chris Mazza: Teen Hero Saves Kid Brother From Pit Bull Attack
03/27/08: Boy Scout Honored with Medal After Saving Mother from Pit Bull Attack