Debate over pit bulls spilled into the blogosphere with this week’s attack on an 89-year-old Santa Rosa man in the driveway of his home.

Armando Flores, 47, of  Santa Rosa was arrested and charged with allowing a vicious animal loose in Monday’s mauling of William Siemsen and his own dog, a black lab. Prosecutors said Flores’ pit bull broke its leash while on an afternoon walk  and attacked the lab. It turned on Siemsen when the elderly man tried to hit the pit bull with his cane.

Siemsen and his dog are recovering.

Comments posted to Facebook on today’s story in The Press Democrat ran the gamut – from outrage over irresponsible pit bull owners to indignation from the breed’s supporters who believe the dogs are unfairly maligned by “haters.”

“What?” wrote Debbie Fidler of Petaluma.

“I’m a dog lover,” Fidler wrote. “But when I read stories like this I am outraged that people come on here and praise the breed as if they are poodles on steroids!”

Others called for a long prison sentence for Flores,  an ex-convict who remains in custody. He returns to court Dec. 23.

“Shoot the dog and send the owner back to prison,” Alan Glad of Clearlake wrote.

Bruce Espinosa of Santa Rosa described pit bulls as grenades with “pins ready to be pulled.”

“This animal needs to be euthanized and the owner needs to be charged with attempted murder,” he wrote.

Counter-arguments came from a number of posters, including Patrick Bohler of Sonoma County Residents Responsible about Pit Bulls.

He said the dogs suffer from unfair stereotypes, fueled by sensationalized newspaper headlines. Other dogs are capable of turning on  humans, too, he said.

“Golden retrievers don’t sell papers nor do they boost ratings,” Bohler said.

Diane Keehn-Cox said pit bulls are only bad because people train them to fight. She said convicted felons such as Flores shouldn’t be allowed to own them.

“Don’t hate the animal it has become and turned into,” she said. “Hate the person that made the animal the way it is.”

Jason Lelek emailed:  “Can you guys in the press PLEASE stop obsessing over pit bull attacks.  Why don’t you post up an article about a lab or some other “non-violent” breed that bit someone?  It happens all the time.”

Meanwhile, county’s head of animal control, Amy Cooper, said Thursday that Flores’ dog has been impounded and an investigation is ongoing.

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