Firefighter bitten in face by pit bull after fire near San Leandro

SAN LEANDRO, Calif. (KGO) -- The Alameda County Sheriff's Office has initiated an animal neglect and cruelty investigation into a dog mauling that left a fireman badly injured.

A pit bull viciously turned on one of his rescuers, attacking Alameda County Fire Battalion Chief John Whiting, who was responding to a fire call in San Leandro on Saturday morning.

Whiting was talking with a 15-year-old girl who had been rescued from the fire when he was bitten on the left side of the face from the cheekbone down to his chin.

"We're taking it a little hard. It's hard on him, it's hard on the family. It's hard on all the firefighters," said Alan Evans, division chief with Alameda County Fire. Evans said Whiting is in stable condition.

Alameda County Fire crews responded to a San Leandro home at around 9:30 a.m. on Saturday after a fire broke out in the back of the property. As many as 20 dogs were in the house where the fire occurred. The fire was first reported shortly after 9 a.m.

Once the fire was out, two pit bulls were pronounced dead.

Right before the male dominant dog bit Whiting, he asked the fire victim if the dog was secure.

"He did ask if that dog was secured with the leash and the girl wasn't holding it really taut," Evans said. "The dog attacked him for no reason."

Officials said Whiting is a well-respected veteran with the department. Alameda County Fire tweeted an image of the dog along with a wish that Whiting recovers.

Whiting was taken to Eden Hospital in Castro Valley before being transferred to Stanford Hospital for surgery.

Alameda County Sheriff officials say residents are only allowed to have two dogs unless they have a permit. Neighbors knew there were multiple dogs at the property.

"I hear the dogs but we don't hear the dogs to where we thought 20 might be in there," said Julia Dunson, who works nearby.

There is now a criminal neglect investigation underway by the Sheriff's Office.

All dogs have been taken by animal control services. The pit bull that attacked the battalion chief has been placed under quarantine during the investigation.
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