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The fate of a male pit bull from San Francisco is in the hands of a local judge. Charlie the pit bull is accused of racing up to a mounted park police officer, biting the officer and the horse, and then chasing the horse at least a mile and a half through The Presidio. The officer was thrown from his mount and briefly lost consciousness. The horse was bitten and nipped as it made a beeline for its stable. The dog's owner says an inexperienced, poorly trained police horse caused the whole episode and charges of assaulting a police officer should be thrown out.

Charlie was out running with his master last month when he veered over towards the horse. The pit bull first bit the heel of the officer's boot, then chomped down on the horse's front leg. The startled animal reared and the officer was thrown to the ground. The horse took off at a full gallop with the pit bull in pursuit. Police say it continued to attack the police horse until another officer on a motorcycle was able to scare the dog off with his siren and air horn.

Charlie has been declared a "vicious and dangerous dog" and was ordered put down by a superior court judge. The owner appealed, and the euthanasia has been delayed while the judge reviews the case. Charlie, meanwhile, has been neutered in hopes of calming him down somewhat.

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Those of us who have dogs are loathe to admit that they're capable of causing any harm, but the reality is that some pets are inclined to bite or attack a person under certain circumstances. Particularly if your dog is trained to guard your home, it's important to realize that a dog bite can happen with very little warning, even if the person attacked doesn't pose a real threat.

A bicyclist peddling along a rural road outside Delhi, California, was the victim of an attack by several dogs last week. According to Merced County sheriff's officials, five or six dogs, most of which were pit bulls or pit bull mixes, chased the man and pulled him off his bike. They continued to bite his arms, legs and torso until neighbors who heard his screams came to help him. The attack was serious enough to put him in the hospital in serious condition.

The dogs were caught and put in quarantine at an animal control facility. Although they tested negative for rabies, their fate is uncertain. The owner of four of the canines said they act as his guard dogs and are usually kept in his yard. He said that while he was away on vacation someone apparently left the gate open, allowing them to escape.

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There's a fierce debate that continues nationwide over whether some dog breeds should be automatically labeled as "dangerous." Owners of these breeds, such as pit bulls and rottweilers, maintain that whether a dog is vicious depends solely on how it is raised and treated. Although there is some truth to this notion, some breeds -- indeed, some dogs in general -- may require more supervision than others to avoid dog bites, attacks and other harmful incidents. 

The issue is front and center in the case of a San Diego, California, woman who was viciously attacked by her next-door neighbor's two pit bulls in her back yard when she went to get the morning paper last June. Although the yard was surrounded by a fence that had been reinforced with a metal gate to cover a gap in the fence between the two yards, the two dogs made it through by ripping a hole near the gate. As a result of the attack the woman's arm had to be amputated below the elbow and her left leg was amputated below the knee. Her right leg was amputated later. She died of complications from the attack Christmas Eve.

The owners of the dogs, a 40-year-old woman and her 20-year-old daughter, were ordered this week to stand trial on charges of involuntary manslaughter, owning a mischievous animal causing death and six misdemeanor code violations, which included failing to protect the public from a dangerous dog and owning a dangerous dog.

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