Local News

Wednesday, May 14 2014 10:19 AM

Dog attacks boy, cat attacks dog, world cheers

  1. 1 of 25

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Four-year-old Jeremy sits with his parents Roger and Erica Triantafilo and his cat Tara on May 14. The cat became a hero when a dog attacked Jeremy in his front yard on Eagle Vista Drive in Bakersfield and Tara came out and chased the dog away. Jeremy needed stitches for severe bites to his leg and his mother also needed medical aid from bites she sustained while protecting her son. A video of the incident has gone viral, creating national media attention.

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  2. 2 of 25

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Four-year-old Jeremy sits with his parents Roger and Erica Triantafilo and his cat Tara Wednesday morning. The cat became a hero when a dog attacked Jeremy in his front yard on Eagle Vista Drive in Bakersfield and Tara came out and chased the dog away. Jeremy needed stitches for severe bites to his leg and his mother also needed medical aid from bites she sustained while protecting her son. A video of the incident has gone viral, creating national media attention.

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  3. 3 of 25

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Four-year-old Jeremy Triantafilo looks out of the window at his home in southwest Bakersfield with his cat Tara Wednesday. The cat became a hero when a dog attacked Jeremy in his front yard on Eagle Vista Drive in Bakersfield and Tara came out and chased the dog away. Jeremy needed stitchea for severe bites to his leg and his mother, Erica, also needed medical aid from bites she sustained while protecting her son.

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  4. 4 of 25

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    The Triantafilo family cat, Tara, looks out the window at a dog Wednesday afternoon. The cat became an instant hero when a dog attacked 4-year-old Jeremy Triantafilo while he played in his front yard on Eagle Vista Drive in Bakersfield and Tara came out and chased the dog away. Jeremy needed stitches for severe bites to his leg and his mother, Erica, also needed medical aid from bites she sustained while protecting her son.

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  5. 5 of 25

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Four-year-old Jeremy Triantafilo is doing much better Wednesday afternoon, the day after a dog attacked him while he played in his front yard on Eagle Vista Drive in Bakersfield. His cat, Tara, background, is credited for chasing the dog away. Jeremy needed emergency medical aid for the dog bites to his leg. His mother, Erica, also needed medical aid from bites she sustained while protecting her son. A security camera video has gone viral on the Internet, attracting national media attention.

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  6. 6 of 25

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Four-year-old Jeremy Triantafilo is doing much better Wednesday afternoon, the day after a dog attacked him while he played in his front yard on Eagle Vista Drive in Bakersfield. His cat, Tara, background, is credited for chasing the dog away. Jeremy needed emergency medical aid for the dog bites to his leg. His mother, Erica, also needed medical aid from bites she sustained while protecting her son. A security camera video has gone viral on the Internet, attracting national media attention.

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  7. 7 of 25

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Erica Triantafilo holds the family cat Tara Wednesday morning. The cat became a hero when a dog attacked Erica's son, Jeremy, in the front yard of their home on Eagle Vista Drive in Bakersfield and Tara came out and chased the dog away.

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  8. 8 of 25

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Erica Triantafilo returns to her home after showing her son's school bus driver their family cat, Tara, who became an instant hero when the cat saved Erica's 4-year-old son, Jeremy, from a dog attack Tuesday afternoon. Jeremy needed stitches for severe bites to his leg and Erica also needed medical aid from bites she sustained while protecting her son. A security camera video has gone viral on the Internet, attracting national media attention.

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  9. 9 of 25

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Erica Triantafilo hugs her son, Jeremy ,Wednesday afternoon, a day after a dog attacked him while he played in his front yard. The family cat, Tara, attacked the dog and chased the dog away but Jeremy sustained bite wounds that required stitches. Erica also sustained bite wounds that needed medical aid. A bandage wraps around Jeremy's left leg.

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  10. 11 of 25

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    As local and national news media invade the Triantafilo home, Erica hugs her son, Jeremy, Wednesday afternoon. She and her husband, Roger, are glad Jeremy is recovering nicely a day after a dog attacked him while he played in his front yard. They are also glad for a stray cat that followed them home in 2008 from a park that they ended up adopting. The cat, Tara, became an instant hero when it chased the dog away during the attack. Jeremy sustained bite wounds that required stitches and Erica also sustained bite wounds that needed medical aid.

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  11. 12 of 25

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    A cat that was stray in 2008 ended up being an instant hero for the Triantafilo family when it chased away a dog during an attack of 4-year-old Jeremy Triantafilo on May 13.

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  12. 13 of 25

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Tara the Triantafilo family cat doesn't seem to want to cooperate with a national news crew that came knocking on the Triantafilo door to report on an incident where the cat chased away a dog attacking 4-year-old Jeremy Triantafilo. A security camera video of Jeremy being attacked by a dog and rescued by the family cat went viral on the Internet. Jeremy is recovering quickly from bites from the dog. The dog is quarantined.

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  13. 14 of 25

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    A day after being attacked by a dog and rescued by his cat, Jeremy Triantafilo appears to be recovering quickly.

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  14. 15 of 25

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    An Animal Impound and Quarantined sign similar to this one has been posted on the kennel at the City of Bakersfield Animal Care Center of the dog that attacked 4-year-old Jeremy Triantafilo in southwest Bakersfield Tuesday. Jeremy needed stiches for severe bites to his leg and his mother, Erica, also needed medical aid from bites she sustained while protecting her son. The family cat, Tara, is credited for chasing the dog away during the attack.

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  15. 16 of 25

    A dog, reportedly an 8-month-old male Labrador-Chow mix, makes its way around the front of a southwest Bakersfield house Tuesday in this screen shot taken from video. The dog later goes on to attack 4-year-old Jeremy Triantafilo. This image was taken from surveillance video provided by the boy's dad, Roger Triantafilo.

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  16. 17 of 25

    The dog, reportedly an 8-month-old male Labrador-Chow mix, approaches 4-year-old Jeremy Triantafilo outside his southwest Bakersfield home. This image was taken from surveillance video provided by the boy's dad, Roger Triantafilo.

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  17. 18 of 25

    The dog begins to attack 4-year-old Jeremy Triantafilo on Tuesday outside the boy's southwest Bakersfield home. This image was taken from surveillance video provided by the boy's dad, Roger Triantafilo.

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  18. 19 of 25

    The dog, reportedly an 8-month-old male Labrador-Chow mix, appears to grab and pull on 4-year-old Jeremy Triantafilo on Tuesday. This image was taken from surveillance video provided by the boy's dad, Roger Triantafilo.

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  19. 20 of 25

    The Triantafilo family cat, Tara, appears to slam into the dog, reportedly an 8-month-old male Labrador-Chow mix, and push it away from 4-year-old Jeremy Triantafilo. This image was taken from surveillance video provided by the boy's dad, Roger Triantafilo.

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  20. 21 of 25

    Tara the cat runs off the dog, and seems to make sure it goes away, after the dog attacked 4-year-old Jeremy Triantafilo. This image was taken from surveillance video provided by the boy's dad, Roger Triantafilo.

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  21. 22 of 25

    Jeremy Triantafilo suffered injuries to his left calf when a dog attacked him Tuesday. The boy needed 10 stictches, an antibiotic shot and oral antibiotics. This photo was taken by Erica Triantafilo.

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  22. 23 of 25

    Jeremy Triantafilo gets a kiss from his grandma, Terry Hansen, after the injuries to his left calf are treated. The 4-year-old boy was attacked Tuesday by a neighborhood dog and saved by his family's cat, Tara, which ran the dog off. This photo was taken by Erica Triantafilo.

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  23. 24 of 25

    Jeremy Triantafilo was bitten on his left calf by a dog Tuesday, but saved by his family cat, Tara, that pounced on the dog and sent it running. He needed 10 stitches, an antibiotic shot and oral antibiotics. This photo was take by Erica Triantafilo.

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  24. 25 of 25

    Four-year-old Jeremy Triantafilo was saved by his family's cat, Tara, on Tuesday, but not before he was attacked by a dog that left these wounnds on his left calf. This photo was taken by Erica Triantafilo.

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BY THEO DOUGLAS Californian staff writer tdouglas@bakersfield.com

A 4-year-old southwest Bakersfield boy with a fondness for Spider-Man has a new super-hero role model today — his own family’s cat. The gray tabby, named Tara, defended the boy against a vicious dog in a startling incident recorded on surveillance video — a one-minute clip that has since gone viral and attracted national media.

Preschooler Jeremy Triantafilo was walking his bike up the family driveway Tuesday afternoon when a neighbor’s dog came up from behind the family’s parked SUV and pounced, biting him on the left calf and overturning both bike and boy.

Related Info

State Farm: California leads U.S. in dog bite claims

National Dog Bite Prevention Week is May 18-24. According to State Farm insurance, California tops the list of states reporting the most dog bite claims.
The top 15 States for State Farm Dog Bite Claims in 2013:

    California — 449 claims $14.7 million paid
    Illinois — 309 claims $8.9 million paid
    Ohio — 221 claims $4.2 million paid
    Texas — 207 claims $4.0 million paid
    Pennsylvania — 180 claims $5.8 million paid
    Michigan — 162 claims $3.9 million paid
    New York — 149 claims $6.4 million paid
    Indiana — 146 claims $3.5 million paid
    Minnesota — 120 claims $4.0 million paid
    Georgia — 106 claims $2.1 million paid
    Arizona — 105 claims $2.8 million paid
    Florida — 93 claims $5.5 million paid
    Oregon — 91 claims $1.4 million paid
    Missouri — 88 claims $2.0 million paid
    New Jersey — 86 claims $4.3 million paid
 

TRIBUTES TO TARA

Tara the cat is receiving lots of kudos on our Facebook page. Read the tributes to the cat, and add your own.

https://www.facebook.com/BakersfieldCalifornian

Bakersfield 28th in postal service dog bite rankings

National Dog Bite Prevention Week is May 18-24 and the U.S. Postal Service released Wednesday its top 30 dog attack city rankings, and Bakersfield tied for 28th.

Nationwide, 5,581 postal employees were attacked last year. Of the 4.5 million Americans bitten by dogs annually, half are children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

RANKING    CITY, STATE    ATTACKS

1        Houston, Texas    63

2        Los Angeles, Calif.    61

3        Cleveland, Ohio    58

4        San Diego, Calif.   53

5        Chicago, Ill.           47

6        Baltimore, Md.       46

7        Dallas, Texas         45

8        Denver, Colo.        41

9        Columbus, Ohio     39

10      Kansas City, Mo.    33

11      Minneapolis, Minn.   32
          Phoenix, Ariz.

12      Portland, Ore.           31

13      Sacramento, Calif.    30

14       Indianapolis, Ind.      29

15       Philadelphia, Penn.    28
           Seattle, Wash.
           St. Louis, Mo.

16        Cincinnati, Ohio       26
            Fort Worth, Texas
            San Jose, Calif.

17        Charlotte, N.C.      25

18        Miami, Fla.            23

19         Fresno, Calif.        22
             Long Beach, Calif.
             Oakland, Calif.
             San Antonio, Texas
             Wichita, Kan.

20         Detroit, Mich.        21

21         Jacksonville, Fla.        20
             Oklahoma City, Okla.
             San Francisco, Calif.
             Tulsa, Okla.

22         Memphis, Tenn.         19

23         Brooklyn, N.Y.        18
             Rochester, N.Y.

24         Washington, D.C.        17

25         Pittsburgh, Penn.    16

26         Austin, Texas          15
             Louisville, Ky.

27         Baton Rouge, La.     14
             El Paso, Texas
             Flushing, N.Y.
             Springfield, Mo.

28         Bakersfield              13
             Dayton, Ohio
             Fort Wayne, In.
             Las Vegas, Nev.
             New Orleans, La.
             Van Nuys, Calif.

29         Atlanta, Calif.          12
             Aurora, Colo.
             Milwaukee, Wisc.
             San Juan, Puerto Rico
             Youngstown, Ohio

30         Cedar Rapids, Iowa    11
             Des Moines, Iowa
             Evansville, In.
             Richmond, Calif.
             Richmond, Va.
             Salt Lake City, Utah
             Santa Ana, Calif.
 

As the dog, an 8-month-old male Labrador-Chow mix, began dragging Jeremy by the leg down his own driveway, Tara sprang into action. Seemingly out of nowhere, the cat hurled herself at the dog, prompting it to release Jeremy and scurry off. The 6-year-old cat chased the dog out of the yard then bounded back to her young charge’s side.

Jeremy’s mother and grandmother took him to an urgent care center where he received 10 stitches, an antibiotic shot and oral antibiotics.

He also got the rest of the week off from school — and a generous helping of mint-chocolate chip ice cream, before taking an interview Wednesday with ABC Network News Correspondent David Wright.

“A mean dog hurt me. He tried to bite me,” said Jeremy, who didn’t remember much of the actual attack. “The cat saved me. My kitty’s a hero.”

Jeremy’s mother, Erica Triantafilo, was also bitten on her left calf when she chased the dog to its home. She received a tetanus booster shot but did not need stitches.

This was the first time Tara has ever had to defend Jeremy, according to his mom, who was just a few feet away watering a palm when the attack began.

The entire sequence was captured by several of the home’s eight security cameras — installed after neighbors had their car stolen and backyard trespassed upon.

Deaundre Turner, 19, is a former football player for Ridgeview High School who lives two doors away from the Triantafilos.

He brought his young cousins to Jeremy’s last birthday party and said the neighborhood is usually serene.

“It’s a pretty solid place,” Turner said. “It’s usually fairly quiet. We play football every Saturday morning at the park.”

Former area resident Shawn Irish of Irish Painting agreed. He was visiting Wednesday to paint a house nearby.

“That’s pretty cool,” Irish said, when told of Tara’s heroism. “I guess that’s why they worshipped cats back in the day. They knew what they were doing.”
Triantafilo said her former stray is normally — wait for it — a real pussycat.

“My cat, I have no idea where she was prior, honestly through the heat of it, I have no idea where she went after. Full lion safari moment,” said Triantafilo, who also has 2-year-old twin boys, Carson and Connor. They were in the house when the attack occurred.

All three boys treat Tara about the way you’d expect, their mom said.

“My kids are absolutely awful to her. They tug on her tail, they pull on her ears, they try to lift her up and carry her around — which obviously doesn’t work for a 2-year-old quite as well,” said Triantafilo.

“I think they’ve sat on her, they’ve jumped on her and she just looks at them with that annoyed cat look that all cats have and … takes it. She really is the most amazing cat.”

The dog’s owners voluntarily surrendered it to the City of Bakersfield Animal Care Center, according to director Julie Johnson.

Bakersfield police spokesman Sgt. Joe Grubbs said the dog will be quarantined for 10 days and subsequently put down.

“They surrendered it, so in essence it’s the city’s dog and it’s not adoptable. For obvious reasons,” Grubbs said. “And that’s really the only alternative.”

Bakersfield Police Department officers responded at 3:54 p.m. Tuesday to reports of a dog bite in the 10700 block of Eagle Vista Drive.

Upon arrival, Grubbs said police officers learned the dog had wandered out of a nearby backyard shortly before biting Jeremy, when its owner opened a gate to put her car away.

Grubbs said the dog’s owners likely will not face charges in the incident.

“It’s not like it was out roaming around,” he said.

The dog’s owners could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but Triantafilo said she doesn’t blame them.

“A lot of people have gotten comments about our neighbors, and I want to say I am not blaming, we are not blaming them,” Triantafilo said. “Accidents happen. It was a dog and things happen.”

Sometimes things happen that make a parent a little crazy with worry.

Her husband, Roger Triantafilo, a database machine administrator at Aera Energy in Bakersfield, was at work Tuesday  when he got the call no father ever wants to get.

“Whenever you get that call, as a father your heart sinks,” Roger Triantafilo said.

“That was probably one of the most surreal moments of my life, feeling like ‘Oh man, what just happened?’ But they were OK and I’m very thankful that it wasn’t as bad as I had originally anticipated.”

Or, in his son’s words, “It feels better.”

Johnson said the family’s pet — who shares the home with another adoptee, 4-year-old Husky mix Maya — deserves a special treat for her heroics.

“That cat should have fresh fish for the rest of her life after this,” Johnson said.

Her owners have a better idea.

“I’m actually allergic to cats and she likes to try to attempt to sleep on my pillow,” said Erica Triantafilo. “As far as I’m concerned, she can have free access to my pillow for the next year.”

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