ORO GRANDE (CBSLA) — A small child was attacked by a dog Monday in Oro Grande, police said.

According to the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department, a 5-year-old boy died after being attacked by the family’s pitbull in the 15100 block of Portland Street in the unincorporated area just north of Victorville. He was identified Tuesday as Sterling Vermeer.

Police said Vermeer was at home with an adult family member and the dog when the attack occurred shortly before 3 p.m.

The family who lives at the home said they have had the 12-year-old pitbull since it was a puppy and trusted it around children.

For unknown reasons, the dog attacked the child, severely injuring and ultimately killing him.

“I was trying to help,” a cousin of the victim said. “I tried to get the dog and everything, but it was too late.”

That cousin said she and another adult relative were babysitting the boy while his parents were at work. She said they were in a room in the back of the home keeping an eye on him.

“All we did was step out for like two seconds just to grab the controller for my cousin to play the game,” she said.

She said when they walked back in the room, the dog had her cousin by the neck and wouldn’t let him go. She said the dog had never hurt anyone before, and that she was just playing with it earlier in the day.

“He was a loving dog,” she said. “He was not a vicious dog, but how it snapped, we don’t understand.”

The dog’s owner signed over custody to Animal Control and the sheriff’s department is continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the deadly dog attack.

Comments (14)
  1. William Linington says:

    “For unknown reasons” — Um, the family was dumb enough to have a pit bull as a pet. There’s your reason. Next question?

    1. Brent Green says:

      And there is the answer. Why do people keep dangerous animals?

  2. Noma Sydiotas says:

    His parents could have chosen ANY other dog type as a pet. Instead they chose to have a fighting breed dog in their home with their child. The death of their little boy is 100% their responsibility, their poor choice fatal. Their child is dead due to their decision to endanger him, gambling that they could own an always potentially dangerous dog with very predictable genetics, that wouldn’t act on that genetic inheritance, not ever, not once. They gambled and they lost. These dogs were specifically created to manifest very specific traits and their dog manifested them perfectly, ie it did exactly what it was created to do: to kill.

    1. Brent Green says:

      You speak wisely.

    2. BeaconOfLight says:

      God the people on this comment section are morally bankrupt. Absolutely disgusting.

  3. Harold Keen says:

    How horrible. Unfortunately, these incidents happen daily in the news nowadays. After a decade of promoting and propagandizing pit bulls as “safe family pets” we are seeing an ever increasing number of children (and adults!) being attacked, horribly mauled, or even killed by “pet pit bulls”. Pit bulls were never bred to be home life household dogs. We are seeing the result of the “fad” of keeping pit bulls as pets. http://deadlydogattacks.com/

  4. Helga Joubert says:

    What’s a few hundred dead kids over the past few decades? Let’s just keep arguing about WHY pit bulls attack. Let’s keep saying it’s the breed, while nutters keep saying no it’s the owners. That’s got to be the most successful red herring in history! What difference does it make why they attack? What matters is that this breed DOES attack, far more often than any other breed, every single year, decade after decade. Enough.

  5. aka says:

    May God rest that poor boy’s soul. When we will learn? Would you have tiger as a pet? A shark in your pool? What a senseless shame.

  6. Darby says:

    How many people have died this year so far? 8? I can’t keep count. I know we should be addressing not only the fatalities but the critical attacks that are occurring daily. Several children are in critical condition from the attacks this week. One little boy had his eyelid torn off, and the last news report stated “he couldn’t see”. The damage to victims that is done by Pit type dogs is likened to victims of war. If people have Pits, don’t fool yourselves, admit the genetics of your dog. Learn all you can and protect yourself and your families. The genetic code in Pits just explodes, sometimes peaceful all their lives. Two women were killed by their 11 year old dogs. Pits are unpredictable, unstable and capable. If you have one, good luck.

  7. Anne Fanged says:

    This is heartbreaking. The five year old didn’t have a chance. Enough of this ‘deciding whether there will be any criminal charges’ when it comes to pitbull related fatalities. You would have to have lived in complete isolation, maybe even sensory deprivation, to not know that pitbull attacks are regularly fatal. The sitter wasn’t to blame. She, obviously, trusted the parenting instincts of the pitbull’s owners.

    If you’re a pitbull fan, and you are reading this, you are on notice that this is one of many reports of pitbulls killing children. If your pitbull kills a child – you are culpable of that child’s death. You’re reading this and ignoring it – you should be charged with murder if the pitbull does what pitbulls do. You can’t claim to still be unaware of the elevated risk (compared to other types of dog) presented by pitbulls. Breed is a manmade thing – you are perfectly capable of avoiding being responsible for somebody being killed by using the natural thing that is judgment. Pitbulls were first engineered circa 1850. Humans have been making choices, based on knowledge of dangers, for much longer than that.

    Poor little boy. Five year olds are so full of fun and potential. He should not have been killed. He should still be alive. You have a pitbull and you expose children to it? I hate you. I absolutely hate you.

  8. Laura Brenton says:

    6 fatal pit bull mauling this year so far – one a week. When will the pitiots learn that pit bulls / pit mixes are not family pets?!

  9. Harve Morgan says:

    I’m not going to blame the parents. They are victims of the pit propaganda machine that tells them a pit is a nanny dog. Too many parents fall for this propaganda and learn the hard way that pits are not a nanny dog, that pits are killers. The Inland Empire as a region is #1 in the entire country for these deaths. California is an anti-BSL, Breed Safety Laws, state, we can’t pass laws to address the public safety issue of the pit bull. CA was number 1 in the country for these deaths until another anti-BSL state, Texas, took the title a few years ago. Write your legislators and demand to repeal this morbid legislation that is killing people in our state.

  10. Harve Morgan says:

    Pit bull deaths in California. The legend on the left of the map has all recorded. https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=17EgSSh06YIs1LlcFmr-N-sIcr2Q&ll=37.301068377719766%2C-119.27770784999996&z=6

  11. Myranya Werlemann says:

    “City raised Border Collie circles a herd of sheep while on a walk in the country, we don’t know what happened. He was just laying around on the couch this morning, he’s never even seen a sheep before, we’ve never taught him to circle a herd.” -Said no border collie owner ever. They know what they have, they know that basic herding is in their genes. With fighting breeds it’s more dangerous traits that are in their genetic make-up. Stop denying genetic traits in dogs, stop keeping the ones bred for blood sports as pets.

    Genetic traits & ignorance/denial of them is what happened, what keeps happening over and over again.

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