Patti LaBelle brutally attacked by pit bull in Dolores Park

Reader Joel explains:

My 6 lb Yorkshire Terrier, Patti Labelle, was brutally attacked in Dolores Park yesterday evening (6/30/11) around 6pm by a black Pit Bull. Patti is doing okay now after an intense 6 hour trip to the SF emergency vet on 18th and Alabama (and $1100). She ended up with a 4 inch x 1 inch gash across the back of her shoulder and neck. The owner did provide her contact phone number and I am going to try it today, fingers crossed.

I have a friend who also had his dog attacked by a brown pit bull in Dolores Park yesterday as well. He had to take his dog to the vet, although the injuries were less severe.

Beware of dogs!

Here’s Patti enjoying happier times prior to this incident:

90 Responses to “Patti LaBelle brutally attacked by pit bull in Dolores Park”

  1. GG says:

    UGH. It’s things like this that (1) give the anti-dog people fuel for their arguments that leashes should be required everywhere and (2) make me afraid to take my dogs to Dolores Park. A bummer all around, but thank you for the warning. I’m glad she’s OK.

    • Kylem says:

      I am neither anti-dog nor pro leash. I am heavily anti pit bull, though. And you could, as a dog lover, make a good case against those animals. We don’t keep panthers or lions as pets. Why pit bulls?

      • SuperLesbian says:

        google “nanny dog” and see what comes up.

      • Stu says:

        It is the owners that fuck these dogs up

        • Tommy says:

          No, it’s the dogs. Too many good owners have to return these dogs that just suddenly turn.

          “I can’t believe it! It’s always been such a good dog.” Yeah, heard that before.

  2. An aside to everybody who will be commenting on this thread in the future: This is why we have leash laws in San Francisco. If you walk your dog without a leash, no matter what the breed, you deserve to have your dog taken away from you — and, someday, it probably will be — and the awful truth is that your dog will probably be killed, though it may not deserve it.

    Walk your dog with a leash, goddamit!

  3. jr says:

    Dogs parks are the worst invention ever:

  4. boo urns says:

    I mean it’s definitely the owners faults of the dogs that got attacked.. Pit bulls are known for their cheery dispositions that have been breed into them from the underground puppy cuddling circuit.

  5. truth says:

    Was the owner of the pit around? Did they offer to pay? What were the circumstances?

    This is actually one of the reasons there are leash laws.

  6. david says:

    Get well, Patti!

    And Patti’s owner should contact the police about this person’s dog. Otherwise the aggressive dog’s owner will continue thinking it’s okay to take their dog wherever they want and not keep it on a leash. It’s not fair to put the lives of others in danger, be it dogs or humans.

    • truth says:

      We actually don’t know which dog was or was not on a leash.

      • Russel says:

        Nor do we know which dog started the fight… Small dogs are not incapable of being aggressive.

      • Joel says:

        Both dogs were off leash…this is an official off-leash dog park. At the time of the incident there were 5 or 6 dogs off leash playing around with each other. Then the pit bull popped up seemingly out of nowhere…they sniffed noses, then it started trying to kill Patti.

        • hmmm says:

          If a pitbull really wanted to kill a 6 pound dog, it could. So could a basset hound, english pointer, poodle, lab, boxer, weimaraner….

          • But, guess what, the others that you mention don’t, you fucking troll.

          • Hmmm says:

            Cranky Old Mission Guy – Seriously? The following breeds were bred to make excellent hunting/game/sporting/gun/bird dogs:

            American Water Spaniels 
            Braque Francais
            Brittany Spaniels
            Chesapeake Bay Retrievers
            Clumber Spaniels
            American Cocker Spaniel
            English Cocker Spaniels
            Curly-Coated Retrievers
            English Setters
            English Springer Spaniels
            Field Spaniels
            Flat-Coated Retrievers
            French Spaniels
            German Long-Haired Pointers
            German Shorthaired Pointers
            German Wirehaired Pointers
            Golden Retrievers
            Gordon Setters
            Irish Red & White Setters
            Irish Setters
            Irish Water Spaniels
            Labrador Retrievers
            Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers
            English Pointers
            Spinone Italiano
            Sussex Spaniels
            Welsh Springer Spaniels
            Wirehaired Pointing Griffons

            If none of the breeds listed above has ever killed a smaller animal (6lb dogs included, whether by accident or instinct) they’ve been very badly bred indeed.

    • Mandaline says:

      I agree, David.

  7. Whatever says:

    I’m going to take a shot in the dark and say that the pit bull wasn’t on leash. Otherwise, the owner MIGHT have had enough control to take the dog away from the situation.

    The problem isn’t well trained 10 lb puppies off leash, the problem are people who own pit bulls and don’t train them, can’t control them, and take them into public. If you want to bring the law into it, ban pit bulls before you start saying all dogs need to be on leash when playing in a park.

  8. Dog Wheeeesperer says:

    This story keeps repeating itself. I’m very sorry to read Patti was injured, but it’s not the first dog fight that’s taken place in the park. And, it won’t be the last.

    It seems 9 times out of 10 the problem lies not in who owns what breed of dog, or which dog was or wasn’t on a leash. Rather, the problem is that most of you idiots all treat your dogs like they’re human children. Sorry–I mean they are cool and special and all–but they’re not as smart as you’re giving them credit for. Spot doesn’t understand “time out” or “One… two… don’t make me count to three!” You have no real control of your animal. One day when some other dog gets over-excited, as dogs are wont to do, your dog doesn’t know how to react, you can’t control them and panic ensues… barking, biting, and blood.

    As much as I hate to say it, the dog whisperer is right. You have to speak their language, stop reinforcing undesirable behavior, allow them to be a dog, and stop coddling them. (And if the dog whisperer’s not your thing, check out Victoria Stilwell)

  9. rod says:

    i don’t really get all the pitbull apologists. 9 times out of 10 when you hear about a dog attack, it involves a pitbull. when there is serious injury or death involved, the odds are more like 99/100. it’s a bummer that pitbulls have become cool fashion accessories.

    • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

      67% of statistics are complete made up.

    • And 9 times out of 10 when you hear about a terrorist attack, it’s an Arab - therefore all Arabs are terrorists and it can’t *possibly* have anything to do with the US trying to steal another country’s oil, using the media to do it (counting on people actually believing ’it must be true because I saw it on the news’). And 9 times out of 10 when you hear about a crack dealer getting arrested, it’s a black man - therefore all black men are crack dealers and you should clutch your purse when you pass one on the street, because prisons are full of *those* people - it can’t possibly be racism, classism, a twisted justice system, or the fact that white men committing awful crimes are more likely to be able to afford good lawyers, and get a jury full of their actual peers.

      There have always been entire races of demonized people. Guess what was used in WW2 to convince the ignorant public that it was okay to kill Jews? The media. Videos of rats taking over the city. Posters of proud blonde-haired, blue-eyed people serving their country. Just so, there has always been a demonized dog breed. It used to be the German Shepard. Now it’s ”pit bull type dogs” (which is like saying ”non-white type people”). Think for yourself. For once.

      • (reply cut off) And 9 times out of 10 when you hear about
         a terrorist attack, it’s an Arab - therefore all Arabs are
         terrorists and it can’t *possibly* have anything to do with 
        the US trying to steal another country’s oil, using the media
         to do it (counting on people actually believing ’it must be
         true because I saw it on the news’). And 9 times out of 10 
        when you hear about a crack dealer getting arrested, it’s a 
        black man - therefore all black men are crack dealers and
         you should clutch your purse when you pass one on the 
        street, because prisons are full of *those* people - it can’t 
        possibly be racism, classism, a twisted justice system, or
         the fact that white men committing awful crimes are more
         likely to be able to afford good lawyers, and get a jury full
         of their actual peers.

        There have always been entire races of demonized people.
         Guess what was used in WW2 to convince the ignorant
         public that it was okay to kill Jews? The media. Videos
         of rats taking over the city. Posters of proud blonde
        -haired, blue-eyed people serving their country. Just so, 
        there has always been a demonized dog breed. It used 
        to be the German Shepard. Now it’s ”pit bull type dogs”
         (which is like saying ”non-white type people”). Think for 

  10. Greenland Whale Fisheries says:

    pit bulls that hang out at dolores park are hipsters

  11. Gordon Edgar says:


    I hope your Yorkie gets better quickly.

  12. emily says:

    I definitely think it has less to do with the leash and more to do with the pit bull. I have to agree with Rod.

    I wish your dog a speedy recovery, Joel!

  13. Anthony says:

    Generalizing: Pit bulls are loaded guns. A lot of Pit owners think they’re badasses.

    From Wiki:
    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published in 2000 a study on dog bite-related fatalities (DBRF) that covered the years 1979–1998. The study found reports of 238 people killed by dogs over the 24-year period, of which “pit bull terrier” or mixes thereof were reportedly responsible for killing 76, or about 32 percent, of the people killed by dogs in the attacks identified in the study. The breed with the next-highest number of attributed fatalities was the Rottweiler and mixes thereof, with 44 fatalities or about 18 percent of the study-identified fatalities. In aggregate, pit bulls, Rottweilers, and mixes thereof were involved in about 50% of the fatalities identified over the 20-year period covered by the study, and for 67% of the DBRF reported in the final two years studied (1997–1998), concluding
    “It is extremely unlikely that they [pit bull-type dogs and Rottweilers] accounted for anywhere near 60% of dogs in the United States during that same period and, thus, there appears to be a breed-specific problem with fatalities.”[8]

    • Quin2013 says:


      I think that anyone with a dog should be required by law to go through a dog training and pass in order to have a dog anywhere. Period.

    • The NCRC on the many problems with “studies”:

      “There is robust evidence that these breed descriptors are often inaccurate. Roughly half the dogs in the U.S. are mixed breed dogs. Surveys conducted by researchers from Western University in California have shown that, when asked to name the breed or breed mix in mixed-breed dogs whose origin they did not know, adoption agency personnel responses correlated extremely poorly with DNA analysis of the same dogs. It’s not that professionals can’t identify commonly available, physically distinct pure-bred dogs, but that mixed-breed dogs do not always look like their parents. If professionals cannot accurately identify the dogs, what about the breed labels assigned by non-professionals, who might nevertheless be the source of a breed attribution in a news story or bite report?

      If we have not been breed labeling the dogs accurately, dog bite studies proposing to correlate incidents by breed have never contained, and will never contain, reliable data.”

      For more information, see:

  14. Greenland Whale Fisheries says:

    around 10 people a year on average are killed by dogs in the US each year. around 8 people a year are killed by sharks in the entire WORLD each year. mans new best friend?

    • boo urns says:

      I’ll bite… PUN INTENDED…

      There are 4.7 MILLION reported bitings a year(in the u.s.). And averaged out for the past 20 years about 17 deaths per year.

      There are on average 30 shark attacks per year.. but 8 deaths… So yes.. are your chances of getting of getting killed are higher from a shark then by a dog.. However your chances of getting attack by a dog are much higher..


    • jr says:

      Nice false equivalency.

  15. jr says:

    If anyone has noticed, this MM post got over 200+ comments:

    A word of advice: Those who have horribly behaved dogs? Imagine how they would be as parents… Not much of a stretch, really.

  16. joe says:

    I hope Patti a speedy recovery.
    However, I would like to bring up the problem of miss classification of dog breeds. It takes an extensive knowledge of dogs to know the breed from sight. Many people mistake other breeds for pitbulls. This prejudice has led to outlawing and killing thousands of innocent dogs because of their breed. Owners are responsible for their dogs. It is unfair to outlaw and hinder responsible pitbull owners with blanket breed selective laws.
    Take this breed test and see is you can tell the difference….

    • aerin says:

      this is really cool! ….but i love diversity in any species…. and i got it first guess!

    • Lynae says:

      I used to volunteer at a city animal shelter elsewhere in CA, where there was a city law against the adoption of pit bulls. If we got a pit in, and the owner didn’t come for it, we had to euthanize it.

      However, what this meant in practice was that the people in charge of intake were able to “spare” pit bulls that were obviously sweet dogs worthy of good homes. They’d just mark them down as Staffordshire Terriers or another breed that looks similar to a pit.

    • jr says:

      Sweet! I got it right on the first click. To be fair, I already knew that most “pit bulls” are usually not pit bull terriers.

  17. GG says:

    A note about the “if all dogs were on leashes this wouldn’t happen” comments: There are SO many times I have seen some little short chick walking a HUGE dog on a leash that she could not possibly physically control if necessary. In that case, a leash isn’t going to make a difference. In fact, I’ve had a dog pull his leash out of the owner’s hands to run over and try to attack my dogs. The issue is really that people need to be able to control their dogs, and if they can’t, they should muzzle them or keep them inside.

  18. shart week says:

    small dogs are pussies that can’t handle the real world. fuck ‘em!

  19. Joel says:

    Patti nor the pit bull were on leash at the time of attack. They were both inside Dolores Park, an on off-leash dog park. The attack was unprovoked – they were sniffing each others noses, then pit all of a sudden picked up Patti by her neck. The dogs were one of a number of dogs wandering/playing around at the time.

    As of today (Tuesday 7/5) we haven’t received any compensation or promise thereof.

    • At Dolores Park That Day says:

      Actually, I was there, and saw the miniature dog running fast by itself when the big one took off after it and got it. I didn’t see any sniffing. It looked more like a dog chasing a squirrel. No one would want something like this to happen, but if you have a tiny dog, you have to be aware that LOTS of different types of bigger dogs could easily see it as prey, and it’s not that the other dogs are bad. I wish Patti a full recovery, and hope the owner is responsible and pays, but making this about the breed just shows ignorance about dogs in general. I wonder how many people commenting have ever even had their own dogs.

      • Joel says:

        yes, i will definitely be more aware. and yes, thanksfully the owner has been very cooperative and has begun making payments to cover the medical costs.

  20. Kelly says:

    For anyone who believes “It is the owners that fuck these dogs up”:

    You are wrong.

    This breed has been bred for centuries to bite down and not let go.

    No matter how nice you are to a puppy from birth **if its instincts are triggered**, it will bite down and not let go.

    It’s not the dog’s fault. No matter how nicely it has been treated, it has instincts that have been bred into it for centuries.

    There is no dog trainer who can overcome centuries of genetic reinforcement.

    And there is no one who can predict when the dog’s instincts will be triggered.

    As Patti LaBelle’s owner said, the two dogs were sniffing each other when suddenly the pit attacked.

    If your sweet-as-honey pit has never attacked, you have merely been lucky.

    When will your luck run out?

    You have absolutely no way of knowing.

    • Sr says:

      Well then by the same logic Pit Bulls should be the safest dogs around people. This is because they have been breed for centuries to not have human aggression. Before dog owners would fight their dogs they had to be able to wash the other persons dog to make sure they did not put any chemicals on the dogs coat that would inhibit their dog from bitting. If a dog showed any sign of human aggression it was not allowed to fight and thus useless to dog fighting. This is an ignorant argument. Cesar Milan “Dog Whisperer” himself would agree that the breed does not make the dog.

    • ncndkso says:

      dumb ass

      read a book

  21. Sara says:

    I own a small dog, and live with a Pit bull who is awesome, sweet, and has never hurt my dog. There are lots of awesome pit bulls (usually rescues) and pit bulls owners out there. That said, I have encountered dangerous situations with Pit bulls in the park at least twice (both times off leash), and my dog was also seriously attacked by larger dogs that were NOT pit bulls twice in other locales. I have been warned about Dolores Park before, and this was a good reminder. I mostly just keep him away from big dogs now. Also, picking up your dog is a BAD idea, it usually makes the other dog more interested. Unfortunately, animals can move really quick and as others have pointed out, you can’t really take for granted how much control another person has. Get better Patti! I’m glad you made it out OK. Both times that my dog survived (with stitches) I was told he was just “really lucky”.

  22. Joel says:

    3. Never take your Pit Bull to a dog park. Even if you think your Pit Bull is wonderful with other dogs, all it takes is once. If a Labrador starts a fight and your Pit Bull finishes it, whom will everyone blame? Let’s face it; the Pit Bull is always at fault in the eyes of the public.

    • Jeremy says:

      Which is why people post things like this only IF it happens to be a pit bull. They know the kind of attention it’s going to get and they don’t care about the damage it might cause.

      Most dog bites go unreported because most owners don’t feel the need to make an already bad situation worse, especially if the owner takes responsibility, the dog will be fine, and the bill will be paid. Dogs get bitten at parks all the time. Doesn’t mean it’s okay, but they’re animals.

      If the same thing happens with a pit bull, though, there’s suddenly gruesome enlarged closeups, a ridiculous number of ignorant comments, and people talking about contacting the authorities, because it’s obviously going to go on a killing spree next. Unbelievable.

      “We have come to be in the midst of a social hysteria about pit bulls because we have abandoned centuries-old common sense and reasoning and have been duped by inaccurate reporting from a media that thrives on sensationalism…” –

  23. Mandaline says:

    So sorry about Patti, Joel! Very scary situation.

    It is sad that we have to be afraid of taking well-trained dogs to the park to play off leash. I don’t think a well-behaved dog should always have to be on a leash, especially when socializing and exercising in a dog-friendly park. Some owners just need to be more responsible–if your pet is dangerous or untrained, don’t take it to public areas!

    I recommend Point Isabel in Richmond. It’s like dog heaven–not sure about number of dog fights/attacks, but I’ve yet to witness one. So far it’s been very friendly, well-trained dogs.

  24. moonpie says:

    if you own a pit bull you are a dick. period.

  25. Whatever says:

    Mandaline, my brother’s dog was attached out at Point Richmond by (you guessed it) a pit bull. You have to be careful everywhere. There’s an idiot with an untrained dog around every corner.

    I hope Patti heals quickly!

  26. Dony says:

    I have had Pits all my life.
    I have been bitten twice by a dog.
    Both times it was, a Chihuahua.

  27. Dony says:

    I really hope Pattie is ok and that the Pit owner pays up and never lets her dog off leash again.

  28. Maria says:
    Please EDUCATE yourselves on APBTs before you mouth off about them.
    i could offer anecdotes of my pit bull being attacked by a german shephard, twice. but really, the anti-pit bull people in this forum are just willingly ignorant of dogs period, not just the pit bull terrier.
    SO, EDUCATE YOURSELVES. or just be a dumbass that ruins shit for other people because you are selfish.
    Dogs are smarter and more important to humans than you think.

    • Joel says:

      why spend time “educating” ourselves about pitbulls when everyday life experiences provide it (aggressive dogs not built for populated areas)? there are no shortage of pitbulls being walked on and off leash around the bay area everyday that can easily be observed.

      • maria says:

        If you do not educate yourself you will never understand that pit bulls were the poster dog of world war II and rightfully named the nanny dog. You obviously didn’t read the website link I posted that explained pitties that were fought were in the cage with humans and constantly pulled apart in the heat of the fight to wipe down the dogs. Any disobedient or human-agressive dog was culled on the spot. When people started illegally breeding them, undesireable traits were not eradicated, as is the practice with professional breeders. If you are educated, more effective laws can be enacted, in my opinion.

        • Do we really have any “professional breeders” in the city? It often looks like we have nothing but paranoids and gambling-obsessed breeders here.

        • Joel says:

          while appreciate your opinion and educational approach…my feelings are like this: since there are thousands of other breeds of dogs…why bother with this particularly tricky breed? they obviously require such special training, maintenance, care, environment or else they may kill other dogs and/or humans.

          • 'Why bother' for you is perfect for others says:

            ‘since there are thousands of other kinds of vehicles, why bother having a foreign sports car with a stick shift? they obviously require such special training, maintenance, expensive tune-ups and care or else they break down. They could even break down on the freeway, or kill other dogs and/or humans because they are so fast. Other cars never kill other dogs or humans – only sports cars get into accidents, so everyone should own a white Toyota Sedan.’

      • So… You’re not ignorant about pit bulls because you see them walking? If by “everyday life experiences,” you mean lots of people repeating and believing things they know nothing about, um…

  29. maria says:

    Also, joel: I am not saying your dog deserved this or that the owner of the other “supposed” pit bull should be justified by anyone that supports pits, but the anti-pit sentiment incited by your story in these comments is ridiculous and ignorant.

  30. chalkman says:

    anyone that is not in control of their dog is an weak ass punk. It’s a dog, it wants you as a human to be the boss.

  31. We don’t know if it’s really even his dog,
    let alone how much of the story is true.

    What do we do when we ass-u-me?

    I can’t hear you…

  32. ASPCA says:

    “Along with over-reporting, false reporting is a major contributor to the public relations nightmare currently facing pit bulls. There is an emerging tendency for all short-haired, stocky dogs to be called pit bulls—and when a dangerous dog’s breed is unknown, the media is not above assuming that the dog involved must have been a pit bull. The National Canine Resource Council terms this phenomenon “Everything is a pit bull, whether it is or not.” In the rush to publish, the pit bull label is often inaccurately applied—and even if a correction is later made, the damage is done.”

    • Mary says:

      Nanny dogs story invented by pitbull advcoates Google pitbulls and the United States Military and see what comes up. BANNED on military bases everywhere! The government doens’t mess around like wimpy politicans do. Oh ans ASCPA: You are not a true rep of ASCPA and the NATIONAL PRESIDENT OF HUMANE SOCIETY OF U.S now recommneds sterliing all pitbulls because they are clogging our shelters and taxing resources nationwide. A lot of people find the dogs to be too aggressive and turn them over for euthanization. Pitbull mixes have also been found to be a problem. Denial is not just a river in Egypt. Pitbulls lead in dog bites, and fatalities nationwide.

      • Because your hysterical, misspelled post littered with false logic and ALL CAPS! clearly shows that you’re an expert. And the US Military is known for its rational behavior and thoughtfulness, right? Google “US military experiments on black men” and see what comes up. Or “US military Guantanamo Bay”. Or “US soldiers Iraqi children”. Obviously an organization we should model our behavior after.

        Mary, you sound like a lot of people who don’t even know how little they know, which is just sad.

  33. debbie says:

    it saddens me to read comments from people who hate pits. they seem to forget the vast majority who live their lives as loving family pets who cause no problems for anyone.

  34. debbie says:

    my own patti (patti pit bull) has been with me 8 years. i had 4 other dogs when i found her on the street. i have also fostered a number of dogs over the years. never had a problem with her. i no longer foster however because i have a male cattle dog who is aggresive with strange dogs -go figure.

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  36. thetruth says:

    whats really sad is how alot of people go off what they see on tv or he said she said! someone on here said pit bulls are the leader in bites? thats just crap! if you do some real reading on the subject the smaller dogs like chiuahuas and min pins are the leaders in bites and agression and most of the time the smaller dogs are the reason for the fight, dogs have insticts and when threatend or prevoked they will defend themselves no matter how big or small the other dog may be! we have all seen it before the little dog thinks its a big dog, it growles and shows its teeth.what do you expect there animals!And truthfuly any dog has the ability to kill someone or something like a puranna and a shark both have the power to kill ones just alot smaller than the other! I do agree that ALL dogs should be on a leash BUT people use your heads if you bring your 6lbs dog to the dog park but there are 50lbs+ dogs there its probably not a good idea to stay or let the dog off the leash and the same for big dogs if you take your dog to the park and see smaller dogs there, maybe a walk around the block a few times is better than risking a situation like this one! ive owned 4lbs chiuahuas and 100lbs+ pitbulls all my life and still own 2 pitbulls these dogs are not to blame for bad owners like any animal thats a pet they all need training and responsible owners! would you trust your $100,000 bently with someone with no license? wake up people!

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