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AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — A 5-year-old boy is recovering after being bitten in the face by an American Staffordshire Terrier, formerly a restricted breed. His mother tells FOX31 her boyfriend recently adopted the dog from the Aurora Animal Shelter. 

According to a police report, the incident happened Sunday morning at an Aurora apartment while the boy, his mother and her boyfriend were watching TV in the living room.

The report states, “He knew something was wrong and that is when he noticed Cotto (the dog) jumped off the couch… got in front of (the boy) and bit directly in the face. He said Cotto did not let go so he got up and reached over and under Cotto’s upper and lower jaw and pried his mouth open.”

The boy who was injured by the dog. Credit: Family

Aurora City Council member David Gruber said, “This is heartbreaking.”

He was worried something like this would happen, and that is why he voted against the pit bull ordinance late last year.

“We just heard from experts shouldn’t fear them, they are no more dangerous than any other dog. Then to find out, low and behold — three to four months after we made a vote to allow them — here we go, just breaks my heart,” Gruber said.

He said the lifting the ban that was in place since 2005 should’ve been voted on by Aurora residents.

“In 2014, we asked the people to vote on this — 64% said, ‘No pit bulls.’ Last year, council wanted to bring them back and voted to repeal the ban. There were restrictions put on the breed as far as having a chip and other things. People with pit bulls love pit bulls and every one of them will say, ‘My dog will never bite anybody’ until they do. Small percentage, but if you look at the overall dog bites in the country, most of them are by pit bulls. When a pit bull bites, it’s not a standard bite, it’s a bite, hold and tear and that’s what makes it so dangerous.”

The dog, Cotto, was euthanized after the incident on Sunday. The boy’s mother tells FOX31 they were told by the shelter that he was a family dog and good with kids.

The City of Aurora released the following statement:

“Our thoughts are with the victim and his family, and we hope for a full recovery.  The Aurora Animal Shelter uses the nationally recognized SAFER evaluation to assess dogs’ suitability for adoption, gauging an animal’s reaction to various encounters and stimuli such as food, toys and interactions.  While this behavioral assessment is an effective tool, no assessment can be a predictor of animal behavior in all situations and circumstances.  People who adopt animals from the shelter are required to sign the city’s standard adoption agreement acknowledging this risk.” 

A neighbor who did not want to be identified said, “If you have that kind of dog, you know what that dog is capable of. If you got it feeding and taking care of it. You should know if it is violent or not, especially to be around a child.”

Gruber stressed that he believes voters in Aurora should have had a say in the process of changing the ban.

“The community should understand the risk and rewards and the community should make the decision. That didn’t happen in this case,” he said.

In November 2020, voters in neighboring Denver voted to repeal the city’s decades-old pit bull ban.

The boy’s mother said he has a long recovery ahead of him, physically and emotionally. His family has a GoFundMe set up to help with his recovery. 

On Wednesday, in an unrelated attack, three dogs bit and injured residents in a Commerce City neighborhood. Police say the injuries sustained by the adult victims were not life threatening. One victim was transported to a local hospital for treatment.