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Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Pit bulls involved in fatal dog attack classified as dangerous

<p>Bella, the emotional support dog killed by three pitbulls</p>

Bella, the emotional support dog killed by three pitbulls

More than a month after three pit bulls killed a woman’s emotional support dog, Alachua County declared them dangerous.

After the declaration Tuesday, Nathaniel Thomas Pettiford, the 42-year-old pit bull owner, must buy a $500,000 insurance policy for each dog and put a sign on his fence to warn people about the dogs in order to get them back, according to a press release from the Alachua County Communications Office.

Pettiford’s dogs must be sterilized and microchipped at the animal services shelter, the release said.

The three pit bulls escaped from Pettiford’s home on the 5800 block of Northwest 29th Terrace and attacked Linda Swinburn and her dog, Bella, on Sept. 22. Bella died in Swinburn’s arms and Swinburn suffered injuries.

Pettiford can still reclaim his dogs from Alachua County Animal Services, the release said.

“This gives him another chance to get dogs,” Swinburn said. “There is no justice for Bella if he continues to get second chances.”

In April, one of the pit bulls threatened a neighbor walking down the street, according to Gainesville Police. Two months later, another neighbor was chased onto her porch.

Pettiford was charged with inflicting injury and animal cruelty after the attack. He could not be reached for comment.

Swinburn said the community is in danger as long as the dogs are alive.

“I made a promise to Bella when I adopted her to protect her,” Swinburn said. “She was killed in my arms, and I will continue to fight and be her voice.”

Contact Jessica Curbelo at and follow her on Twitter at @jesscurbelo

Bella, the emotional support dog killed by three pitbulls

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