An animal control officer was attacked Monday by a pair of pit bulls roaming a Riverside property, suffering bites to one of his legs before he used force to repel the canines.
According to the Riverside County Department of Animal Services, Officer Michael Cox went to the 2500 block of Mount Vernon Avenue, on the west side of Box Springs Mountain Reserve Park, shortly after 11 a.m. to investigate complaints that four dogs were on a homeowner's adjacent but vacant fenced parcel.
Agency spokesman John Welsh said that when Cox approached the dogs, they initially seemed friendly, but then one of them latched onto his right leg, puncturing it. A second pit bull then joined in the attack, also biting the officer.
"Officer Cox retreated while using his retractable baton and pepper spray to protect himself," Welsh said.
Paramedics were summoned, as well as additional animal control officers and police, according to Welsh.
"Three of the four dogs were impounded," he said. "The fourth -- one of the two that had attacked the officer -- managed to break through a gate and escaped into the nearby hills."
Cox was taken to Riverside Community Hospital for treatment of the bite injuries, and is expected to fully recover.
"We go into dangerous situations all the time, but we're trained to know the warning signs of aggressive dogs," Department of Animal Services Cmdr. Chris Mayer said. "In this incident, Mike didn't have any time to react. We're thankful the attacks weren't worse."
The impounded dogs were found to be microchipped, and their owner, an apparently homeless woman whose name was withheld, was being sought for questioning and the issuance of citations for allegedly failing to license the canines, according to Welsh.
The whereabouts of the fourth pit bull were unknown.
Anyone with information was asked to contact the Department of Animal Services at 951-358-7387, or the Riverside Police Department, 951-354-2007.