A pit bull at the Aurora Animal Shelter, renamed Cotto, previously Malone, before adoption. The dog bit the face of a 5-year-old boy March 3, 2021. The dog was later destroyed.
A pit bull at the Aurora Animal Shelter, renamed Cotto, previously Malone, before adoption. The dog bit the face of a 5-year-old boy March 3, 2021. The dog was later destroyed.

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the city’s animal shelter destroyed the pit bull. The dog was destroyed by the Denver Dumb Friends League shelter after it was surrendered there by its owner.

AURORA | Less than a month after Aurora formally allowed pit bulls and several other breeds back in the city following a 15-year ban, a local private shelter destroyed a recently adopted dog after it mauled a 5-year-old boy’s face over the weekend.

City staffers sent a memo to Aurora City Council members Wednesday, briefing them on a dog bite that occurred in the City Center neighborhood on Sunday.

The message details how a 2-year-old American Staffordshire terrier bit the boy’s face as he was playing video games at his stepfather’s house on South Dearborn Way on March 7.

According to reports, the boy was on a couch with the dog. The dog attacked the boy, and his stepfather had to pry the dog’s locked jaws from the boy’s face. He then dragged the dog to a bathroom and shut the dog inside.


The boy sustained multiple lacerations “greater in depth than half a tooth length,” across his entire face, according to the memo. A doctor has recommended further examination to his right eye.

The attack was “unprovoked,” people who witnessed it told Aurora animal services staff. The dog earned strong marks in an evaluation conducted by staffers when it was transferred to Aurora in early February.

“Thinks he’s a lap dog and will sit in your lap to give you hugs and kisses,” an evaluator wrote on Feb. 18.


Following continued investigation, the dog was destroyed by the Denver Dumb Friends League shortly after it was taken there the day of the bite.

“Our thoughts are with the victim and his family, and we hope for a full recovery,” city spokesperson Ryan Luby said in a statement.  “The Aurora Animal Shelter uses the nationally recognized SAFER evaluation to assess dogs’ suitability for adoption, gauging an animal’s reaction to various encounters and stimuli such as food, toys and interactions.  While this behavioral assessment is an effective tool, no assessment can be a predictor of animal behavior in all situations and circumstances.  People who adopt animals from the shelter are required to sign the city’s standard adoption agreement acknowledging this risk.”

The dog, whose owners had named it Cotto, was one of the first three previously-banned animals to be adopted in the city after Aurora city council members reversed a standing ban on American pit bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers and American Staffordshire terriers in January. 

Passed in January, the measure reversing the ban went into effect on Feb. 14. Cotto was adopted on Feb. 27.

Aurora residents had originally passed the ban on pit bull ownership in the city via ballot measure in 2005. Voters again upheld the prohibition via another measure nearly a decade later.

One Aurora resident has threatened to sue city council members for their recent unilateral decision to nix the ban, claiming local politicos usurped the will of voters.

17 replies on “Shelter destroys Aurora-permitted Staffordshire ‘pit bull’ terrier after biting boy’s face”

    1. Dogs like people are ALL very different. I’ve worked with and been around pits since 2004 and have never had a problem with them. Small children should not be around many dogs whether the dog is a large or small breed. I know families that have more then one pit at the same time with no issue and unless I was to see a tape of the attack something as simple as the child taking something as innocent as a piece of cookie from the dog could have initiated the attack. This is a sad story all the way around. I hope the child make a full recovery.

  1. I have written and warned the Sentinel about pit bulls, warned Alison Hiltz who for years tried to overcome the will of Aurora voters and wrote to City Council about the killer instinct of all pit bulls. No one listened.

    Now here we are. Exactly my warnings have come true within one month of canceling the will of the people. I hope that someone on the Aurora City Council has the fortitude to move to set up a vote of the citizens of Aurora to finally ban these uncontrollable animals from our city. I hope that the Sentinel reports on all future attacks of these animals. I hope that the Sentinel will get pictures of the damage that these animals create. I’m sure a current picture of this 5 year old’s wounds will just break your heart.

    Citizens of Aurora, it’s time to realize that this City Council is not making our city a better place to live. It’s time to vote them out of office as soon as possible.

  2. So sorry for the dog and for the boy and the family. No one could have predicted this. It could just as well have been a Poodle or a Chihuahua that did this. Please let’s not villify the entire breed.

  3. Stupid is as Stupid does, another meaningless consideration given to vicious dog lovers.

  4. There is no way this could have been predicted. If the dog showed no signs of aggression than why should the family be concerned? However, everyone knows that if you dont know the history of the animal than be careful with small children around them. They may say it was unprovoked but I know small children and it’s up to the parent to educate them and pay attention to how your children interact with the animal. I m sure the signs were there and the parents failed to recognize them.

    1. Yes, it is predictable bc it’s a shitbull!! Pits are dangerous predators whose instincts are attack w/o provocation, latch on, shake, maul until dead!! They’re proven killers, wake up you idiot defenders!! You should be their next victims!!

      1. I’m an ex human officer “dog catcher” and have taken extensive classes on the different breeds and the study’s show the two most bites come not from pits but Shepard’s and chihuahuas with chihuahuas holding the top record of bites. So before u speak get educated. Ignorance breeds fear and false awareness of all animals. Truth be told there’s good and bad in every breed. The true fault lays w people not researching the breed of dog or even cats they adopt. And not raising the needed home for the choice they pick.

        1. anyone who compares attacks by toy breeds to the powerful attacks of pitbulls needs to not only NOT work with anilmals but seriously needs to seek counseling.

  5. Oppps. Now I see it as not approved after 18 hours. I sure don’t understand this new system.

  6. Oh, please, I had a Chihuahua that almost had to be put down when he bit a kid. A Chihuahua, may have smaller teeth, but they are mean af. Dachshund are also known to bite, I don’t see anyone trying to ban them.

    1. lol I remember this little Dachshund that used to bite and chase us all the way home from the bus stop 🙂

    2. I was bit by a Chihuahua. IT DIDN’T EVEN BREAK THE SKIN! Stop comparing those bites to ones that severely disfigure and KILL PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!

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