Family Mourns Child After Fatal Dog Bite

Pit Bull Belonged To 4-Year-Old Boy's Uncle

POSTED: 7:32 pm EST December 8, 2004
UPDATED: 7:30 pm EST December 9, 2004

A 4-year-old boy died Wednesday evening after being bitten in the head by a relative's pit bull.

Myles Leakes
Four-year-old Myles Leakes died Wednesday after he was bit in the head by a dog.
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Myles Leakes was playing in the backyard of his uncle's home when the attack occurred, WESH NewsChannel 2 reported.

Talk To 2: Should Some Dog Breeds Be Banned?

The boy's father, Mark Leakes, put the child in his car and drove to an Orlando Police Department substation. Orlando police called the fire department, and rescue workers then arrived with an ambulance and transported the child to Orlando Regional Medical Center.

The child was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The dog was one of three at the relative's home on Fitzgerald Drive. Two of those pit bull mixes in that backyard were chained. One was not. It was one of the chained dogs that officials believe bit Myles Leakes.

By Thursday, animal services had all three dogs in isolation. They seemed emaciated and in bad shape, according to officials.

Experts say when dogs are chained, they become aggressive and territorial. Chained dogs are responsible for 25 percent of fatal dog attacks in the United States.

According to some neighbors, it wasn't unusual to see the dogs roaming.

Neighbors said a tree fell during the hurricanes, taking out the yard's fence and giving the dogs access to roam free. One woman who walks by the yard all the time said she was frightened.

Investigators believe Leakes was playing with other children and that he may have been drawn to a football in the backyard -- that's when the attack happened. But police still don't know what triggered it. It may have been a tragic accident that left this little boy dead.

From October 2003 until September 2004, there were 2,166 bite cases in Orange County. Only 13 of those were declared "dangerous dogs." If you keep a dangerous dog at your home, you have to build a kennel, keep the dog muzzled and on a leash, and you must post warning signs on the house.

Also, animal services does have three complaints on record for that address, dating back 12 years, but the complaints were for loose dogs, never for bites.

Protect Yourself From Dangerous Dogs

Dangerous dogs are defined by their actions, not by their specific breed. If you own a dangerous dog, there are certain steps that you must take by law, under the Domestic Animal Act of 1994.

A dog is declared as dangerous by a local council if it has attacked a person or animal without provocation and caused serious injury. If a dog is trained to attack people or animals or is kept as a guard dog on non-residential premises, it will also be deemed dangerous.

All dangerous dogs are required by law to wear a prescribed striped reflective red and yellow collar, and there must be warning signs up at all entrances where the dog lives or works.

If you or your children are approached by a dangerous dog, don't run away -- stand completely still. Avoid eye contact with the dog. A dangerous dog might interpret direct eye contact as a challenge.

Try shouting at the dog to "sit" or "stay." This asserts dominance. However, if the dog does not respond to this, do not challenge it.

Then, slowly back away from the dog, and when there is enough distance between you and the dog, walk away.

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