Pit bulls’ owner faces charges in attack on boy

The Associated Press
Friday June 22, 2001


RICHMOND — A home health care nurse whose three pit bulls chewed off a 10-year-old boy’s face and ears was arraigned Thursday on two misdemeanor charges for allegedly concealing the dogs after the attack. 

Benjamin Moore, 27, was charged in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Richmond and was held on $50,000 bail. He pleaded innocent to the charges. 

Prosecutors had hoped to charge Moore with felony mayhem and failing to exercise care with dogs trained to fight, attack or kill, but said their investigation did not support those charges. 

Moore’s girlfriend, Jacinda Knight, 33, was released without charges. 

Moore’s lawyer, public defender Michael Friedman, asked Commissioner Stephen Houghton to release Moore without bail, but Houghton said he thought Moore should stay in jail because he did not call 911 after the attack. 

“The court is concerned with the alleged disregard for the victim in this case,” Houghton said. He set a pretrial hearing for July 13. Moore said he fled with his dogs Monday evening because he thought the boy was dead. Now two of the dogs are still missing, and Shawn Jones is in critical condition.  

He spent most of Monday night in surgery, but his ears could not be reattached, said Dr. James Betts, chief of surgery at Children’s Hospital Oakland.  

If he survives, the boy faces years of plastic surgery and may never fully recover, the doctor said.  

He’s also suffering through painful rabies shots because the dogs haven’t been tested. On Thursday, Shawn’s blood pressure dropped precipitously but doctors did stabilize him, said Carol Hyman, a spokeswoman for Children’s Hospital Oakland. 

Animal control officials said Thursday they found one dog in an unincorporated part of Contra Costa County near Richmond. Police Sgt. Enos Johnson said late in the day that the dog has been identified as one of the three dogs involved in the attack. 

Moore insists the dogs were current with their vaccinations, have no history of violence and do not pose a threat now that they’ve been separated. But county officials say they have no records proving the dogs have been vaccinated. 



“I’d provide as much money as I could to help. I feel real sorry for the family and the boy,” he said. 

But Darryl Cyrus, Shawn’s stepfather, only wants to find the dogs. 

“I raised pit bulls, and I know when you raise them, you love them,” he said. “I know his heart wouldn’t allow him to just turn them loose. Someone’s got those dogs.” 

The city of Richmond is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of the dogs, which would have to be destroyed to be tested for rabies. 

A trust fund for Shawn’s medical treatment also has been set up at the Mechanics Bank in Richmond. 

“I’m a God-fearing man. I’m not going to be angry at him,” Cyrus added. “I want to plead with him. Turn those dogs in and let them be destroyed. If you have kids, your kids could be next.”