Authorities search for answers in fatal pit bull mauling

August 12, 2011 10:21:46 PM PDT
Authorities in Pacifica are searching for answers after a pregnant woman was mauled to death by her own pit bull. Darla Napora, 32, was attacked by the animal in her home Thursday. Her husband found her lying on the floor with the dog standing over her.

In Pacifica and across the country, this is the dog mystery people are wondering about. How could a seemingly gentle, 2-year-old dog, attack, maul and kill his 32-year-old pregnant owner?

"The victim had major trauma to her upper body, to her arms, her neck and her face. But at this point we don't know what the cause of death was. There are many ways that could have happened; it could have been a heart attack, could have been a loss of blood and it could have just been the trauma itself," said Pacifica Police Capt. Dan Bertini said.

A little past noon Thursday, Greg Napora came home and found his wife Darla bleeding and unconscious on the floor, with the family's male pit bull standing above her.

Many neighbors say the dog did not appear to be violent.

"I've never seen them; I run by every day, never heard them," one neighbor said.

In San Mateo County, the coroner performed an autopsy, looking for a precise cause of death and matching bite marks with the dog, who police shot dead when he attacked them.

A few miles away, animal control performed a necropsy, looking for physical clues but they cannot release the results without permission from police or the coroner.

"This is abnormal behavior if it did happen this way; it had to be triggered by something," Peninsula Humane Society spokesperson Scott Delucchi said.

But what?

"Most of these dogs that have behavioral problems, especially aggression, there is some underlying issue going on that either the owner missed, or was in denial about," Melissa Bain, DVM, said. Bain studies companion animal behavior at UC Davis.

Darla Napora's father describes her as having been athletic, with a good sense of humor.

As for the fact that this was a pit bull, animal control said the breed has a somewhat undeserved reputation. When asked why it seemed so many of them attack, animal control said that there are more of them than other breeds and that when they do attack, they tend to cause more damage because of their strong jaws.


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