Family pit bull rips face off 5-year-old

Jeremiah Rivera (Photo via Handout: Milton Signman Walters)

When Joel Rivera woke up on Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, he found his 5-year-old son on the living room floor choking on his own blood. Jeremiah Rivera had been mauled by one of his dad’s pit bulls.

“He didn’t have a face, just teeth, that was all I could see. And the smell of raw meat,” Joel says tearfully to New York Daily News. One of Joel’s two dogs escaped its crate in their East New York home. Of course, Joel blames himself.

“He wasn’t breathing. I yelled at him and said, ‘Come back! I love you, come back! I got you, come back to Daddy!’ Rivera tells The Post.

When he found his son, Joel ran into the street yelling and screaming for help before fainting on the stoop.

Young Jeremiah was attacked around 6:45 p.m. He has deep lacerations on his face and neck and lost two pints of blood, and required at least 2K stitches in his face.

Joel continues, “The last time I had his blood on me was when I cut his umbilical cord. I am responsible for this. This is my fault.
‘Man’s best friend?’ How you going to do this to my son and be called man’s best friend?”

Jeremiah lives in the Brooklyn apartment with his father, mother and two sisters, 8 and one-year-old. It was his youngest sister’s 1st birthday.

“The last thing I ate was grilled cheese with my kids two days ago,” Joel sobs. “I can’t eat. I close my eyes and I see [Jeremiah] smiling. Singing happy birthday [to his sister]. I just want to hear him laugh again.”

Animal Care and Control have custody of both dogs.

Yvette Caslin
Yvette Caslin

I'm a writer, image architect & significance marketer. Love photojournalism, creative expression & originality.

  1. And how could you call yourself a “father” for allowing these vicious animals in your home, around your kids. I pray for the kid and other kids whose parents subject them to vicious animals in the homes.

  2. Wow! and such a beautiful child. They live in an apartment in NY. I am shocked that there are no breed restrictions in apartment building. He housed not 1, but 2 vicious breeds (and stop handing people that line about there being no such thing as a vicious breed) in an apartment inhabited by 4 adults and 3 young children. Those are not suitable accommodations for 2 pit bulls. He is right to blame himself.

    1. I am a Property Manager in Georgia…..We do have a restriction on all vicious dogs….I had tenants try to do the same thing had ‘Pit bulls in there apartment, my tenants told the office about the Pit Bull That had 2 choices get rid of the dog within 4 days or move…..Vicious breed dogs, shout not live in a apartment or be around kids

  3. Everyone of you’ll need to shut up how dare you’ll judge anyone that doesn’t make him a bad father and it wasn’t his fault it could happen to anyone I can’t stand people like you’ll that want to judge other’s when you really don’t know what’s going on how about praying for this family that’s if you know God anyway I’m praying for this family may God cover this little boy and please father have mercy on these rude ungodly people.

    1. How do we not know what’s going on? The story is about a vicious dog attacking a child. Did I miss something? Everyone knows that you should not have pit bulls around children, unless you’ve been living under a rock. Even the father knows better now…why do you think he feels guilty about this whole incident? I know the reason, because he knew theses dogs were vicious and yet he still placed his children in harms way thinking this would never happen to them.

      1. I agree with you, it’s just as bad as having a gun in reach of a Child, clearly Keyana must be delusional, not to think the Father of this beautiful Child is not at fault, he admitted he was wrong, if you train a dog to be vicious, what do you expect, I know that Pit bulls can be mild mannered animals and would protect a Child, his dog was not that kind of Pit Bull.

          1. That man should NEVER have had an aggressive dog around his children, EVER. I don’t care how many cages, locks and doors you put it behind, at some point a human is going to make a mistake and forget to lock one or all of them and the dog will get loose. No one is perfect – EXACTLY – that is why you don’t take unnecessary risks and if you know your dog is capable of killing or injuring a child (which he obviously did as he had it crated) then you DON’T keep that animal on the same property where your children live.

    2. C’mon it was his fault, he knew the dog was vicious, that’s why he kept the dog crated, it could have happen to any of his Children, you don’t keep a dangerous animal around Children…that’s the rule, No excuses.

    3. Stop it. Just stop already. One thing that God charges parents with when BLESSING them with children is that they should love, care for their children and KEEP THEM SAFE. Children are a responsibility, so of course, this is SOMEONE’S fault. He is accountable for them. An apartment in NY with 7 other humans is not an ideal living situation for 2 pit bulls. Any responsible person should know that.

    4. no, you shut up. we all make choices. we can use common sense or NOT. dogs like that shouldn’t be inside a house.. let along an apartment. gtfofh. may God bless the little boy. bad decision…that he didn’t even make…now he has to live with it for the rest of his life.

    5. Reality check: The dog didn’t pry open a window and slip into the apartment at night. The father was intentionally keeping vicious, dangerous animals in apartment with young children.

      This “gangsta culture” fascination with vicious dogs needs to stop!

  4. We can pray for that beautiful child all day and all night, but it will not erase the horrendous tragedy that happened to him, that led to him having 2,000 stitches in that beautiful face. TWO THOUSAND STITCHES! And yes, I’m most certainly praying for the child, the mother, the siblings, AND the father. BUUUT, that does NOT change the fact that the parents, both of them, acted irresponsibly in having not one, but two VICIOUS breeds of dogs around their small children. SMALL children. Keep in mind there was a child who just turned 1 yrs old. God forbid the dog that got out of the cage didn’t end up in that child’s room. The infant would’ve been killed for sure. Prayers are always a good thing. So is compassion and I have both. BUUUT, sending a message for other parents and people who have children around to NOT be negligent and allow this to happen to children (as they have no choice but to live or otherwise be in the same household) is also the RIGHT thing to do. The world can get mad at Michael Vick for abusing dogs, but we can’t get pissed at the father for allowing a child to be abused by a dog? No, that’s not the way this works. As humans, WE MUST do better. Stop being so damned selfish and doing what we want just because we can. We MUST PUT THE CHILDREN FIRST! ALWAYS! Period! Do what’s best for them. There’s a chance this would never have happened. BUUUT, if there’s even 1% chance that a child could be hurt, (and any VICIOUS breed of dog provides at least a 1% chance of becoming vicious especially towards children), any responsible adult would not put the child in that situation.

    1. Let’s just pray and not judge. Praying for the family. And to the Father get on your knees and ask God to forgive you and your going to have to deal with what happen and don’t keep beating yourself up. Let’s pray and keep praying and never do it again. Some ppl think that Pitts are God dogs to have but there not sweetie God bless yours son and your family at the time of need

      1. When I hear of a PREVENTABLE tragedy, especially one that has occurred over and over and over AND it involves a helpless child, I will shout from the mountain tops and I don’t give a damn who doesn’t like it. Call it what you want. I’m not asking for approval. IT’S PAST TIME FOR PARENTS TO STOP HURTING THEIR KIDS! Period! I don’t care if it’s me, my family member or a total stranger. I’m calling you out. Yes, I hurt for the father. This is a tragedy. But, like I tell my 12 yr old grandson, don’t hurt me then say sorry dammit, be careful as hell and JUST DON’T HURT ME! sorry changes nothing. It only means you f’d the hell up to somebody else’s detriment. No disrespect, but I don’t bite my tongue when it comes to a child getting hurt.

  5. Pitbulls get a bad rep and yall need to stop judgment. It can happen to anybody with any breed .I have a pit bull and she is the sweetest dog i ever had in my lifetime .Yall should be praying for the family instead of pointing fingers .

        1. Actually its how you raise the dogs pits actually have better scores on temperament than many other dogs you wouldnt think would hurt kids. First off the mistake was leaving pits in a crate. Thats a no no, pits need excersize and to roam around to stay mentally stable they are actually known as good family dogs. If the dog was suppose to be an attacker dog like people try them out to be then whether he was in a crate or not the dog shouldn’t be around kids period. There are pits that are wonderful dogs who stay out of crates that are the most loving thing. Pits and crates don’t mix. If you want to crate a pit you better not have kids cause thats not mentally good for a pit. They need love and effectiom just like any dog. A lot of people get pits for only one reason and thats wrong! Thats why they have a bad rep because the owners make them into a vicious dog. I’m sorry for what happened to the boy I’m sorry for the family and I send my condolences. I have a cousin who’s face got torn apart by a great Dane who was also in a crate but people seem to.still think its the dog. If you look up facts about pitbulls they actually tell you to.involve them in families cause they do best at being family dogs. This dog was probably a guard dog who was surrounded by lots of family. Not a good combo. Now I dont know for sure but i myself own 4 pits and have 2 Lil ones non crates and they are very well behaved dogs. So, in conclusion I don’t think they are vicious dogs. Its the owner, hence why he blames himself.cause he probably knew the dog was aggressive other wise my ass would have blamed the dog if it just randomly bit and mauled my kid. But even he knew better smh plus pits need more room than just a tiny Lil appt yes I agree. bit I as well live in a tiny appt with 4 pits and nun of them are aggressive. My son could be eating out there food bowl while they eat and not one growl or flinch. Its how you treat them dogs. Its how you treat every dog. I have been bit several times by a poodle or a shitzsu. the only difference is they are tiny dogs so there bites may have torn a chunk of skin but it wasn’t as bad.

      1. It’s the parent’s fault. So point fingers, I shall. Their first responsibility is to their children. This apartment in NY with 7 other people is not ideal living conditions for 2 pit bulls.

    1. Yet, your pit bull has been selectively bred to be capable of inflicting maximum physical damage and has instinctive reactions that can result in these types of tragedies, specifically their bite-and-shake behavior.

  6. I am very sorry for what happened to the child .
    dogs are mans best friend.
    Any animal can bite a pit bull or Pomeranian or a little yorkie and kids can be very annoying to animals by pulling
    Them etc however this Accident should have been prevented the parents should never allow a kid to be alone with a big dog and how can 2 dogs just escape their crate? What kind of crate is that? I am sorry but this to me sounds like parents fault u can’t leave a 5 year old child unsupervised it’s not the dogs fault or child’s fault .
    I wish the child a full recovery ??
    God bless.

  7. In today’s climate no one has the sack to openly utter the unspoken truth about what has become of pit bulls. For centuries the pit had been a noble breed of dog. Well respected, loyal and docile, much loved by it’s owners and protective of children. It wasn’t until the blacks began favoring them as “street cred” accessories did the genetic makeup of pits began to change (of course, for the worse). Blacks wanting animals as menacing and aggressive as themselves began to breed and train pits to become fighters. Now, the pit bull, depending on how and by whom it was raised, is often a much unpredictable breed. It’s yet another sad reality created by black “cultcha”, one that has unfairly and needlessly brought pits down to the base level of the feral blacks themselves.

  8. I have a Pit and small children, the pit will ripe my face off before the kids, they are her babies. The issue he kept the dogs crated and no social interaction with the kids, we have a huge yard so the dog gets to run around and get fresh air and play with the kids, in the house she is allowed to interact with kids under supervision and its timed, at night she is crated and kept in a seperate room. The problem I see with most pit owners they just want them to have them, keep them locked up no real interaction or training. Our dog is treated like one of the family, and fiance takes her out daily and trains her practicing running obstacles. My mom has a huge pit mixed and she is so spoiled she loves when the grandkids are over, and watches my son like hawk in the yard, if he goes to an area not safe she pushes him down before he gets there, more than likely its a snake bed since my mom lives in the woods

  9. In New York you may need vicious dogs in your apartment but also I know someone that had a white pitbull that was very jealous of everybody in the family but one person, the dad. I hope that baby was okay that’s so sad may he rest and get better

  10. Lord have Mercy!!!!!!!!! Heaven got a sweet angel
    Prayers for the family!!!!!!
    WHY WHY do people have Pit bulls around kids, this is so sad….I feel for the dad and I know he will blame him self for the rest of his life,,,,…..God bless this family

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