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77-year-old tries to fend off pit bulls with broom, but dogs kill her son

Posted at 3:38 PM, Nov 05, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-05 15:38:38-05

MODESTO, Calif.  -- Maria Fernandez holds her arms closely as she recounts the night her neighbor's dogs allegedly attacked her and her son.

"My son left to go outside and then I heard him shouting and then that's when I got up and went outside to see what it was," Maria said.

KXTL reports that on Oct. 14, the 77-year-old said her son, Juan Fernandez, found himself face-to-face with a pack of pit bulls.

"It was when I saw the dogs on him, four dogs on him," she said.

She placed herself in harm's way, she tried to help her son.

dog attack

"And then I got the broom and tried to chase them but they didn't go away," she added, "Oh, I don't think about nothing [sic], I just want to save my son."

He also tried to save her.

"The dogs went [sic] on him again and that's when I went back in the house."

Authorities arrived to witness three of the four dogs mauling Maria's son. Police shot the dogs to death. The 59-year-old man died from his injuries. Juan was Maria's only child.

Some have argued, this attack sheds light on a growing problem in Modesto's Bret Harte neighborhood.


"I grew up just a few blocks away from there so I know exactly, you know, what the situation is like," Angelica Anguiano, Maria's attorney, said.

Anguiano hopes the incident will force dog owners to act more responsibly.

"Other people can avoid this happening in the future," Anguiano said.

Maria is now recovering at Evergreen Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Modesto with multiple cuts and bruises on her arms, legs, neck and head. But the pain of remembering that night strikes her speechless.

The little solace she has now, is knowing he'll rest eternally next to his father, her husband.