Tulsa Police Officer Attacked By Pit Bull Trying To Save Girl

Wednesday, June 30th 2010, 4:31 pm
By: News On 6

By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- A Tulsa Police officer is back to work, on light duty, more than a week after being attacked by a pit bull while trying to save a little girl.

Officer Thomas Bell works at a computer as crime analyst, but, the department is so short-staffed in the field, he volunteered to do a shift on patrol, answering calls.

When he got a call of a dog being a nuisance, he had no idea he'd end up in the hospital.

Arnetta Atkins and her little buttercup had gone to Lacy Park, while waiting on her son to get out of boxing. A female pit bull showed up and cornered them up on the playground equipment, so Arnetta called 911.

Officer Tom Bell got the call. The dog was calm, wagging her tail and stood right next to him.

"She was a very large, muscular pit bull, full grown, so I reach down and get her by the collar and instruct the family to hop on down and go on to your car," Officer Bell said.

That's when everything changed in an instant.

"As we was getting down, walking to the car, the dog just got vicious and ferocious and out of control," said Arnetta Atkins.

"Fighting me so hard, she was coming off the ground," Officer Bell said.

He and his back-up officer tried to wrestle it to the ground. They even pepper sprayed it but nothing worked. They couldn't shoot, because the family was in the line of fire. Then the dog attacked, biting Officer Bell's arm, through muscle, down to the bone.

"It was incredibly painful," he said. "But, in spite of how bad it hurt, I absolutely knew I could not let go of her."

The family made it to the car and Officer Todd Snedagan pulled out his gun.

"I was able to push her down and back off and he had a clear shot," Officer Bell said. "He fired three shots and I'm very thankful for this, she died instantly."

Officer Bell shouldn't need surgery or physical therapy, just lots of time to heal.

"I just thank God they were there because I know I wouldn't have made it with my daughter," Arnetta said.

"Nobody wants to be attacked by a pit bull, it's a scary thing and potentially deadly but if I have a choice between me getting attacked and that family getting attacked, it's a very easy choice for me," Officer Bell said. "That's what we do."

Officer Bell says this is why it's so important to make sure your dogs are secure, because they act one way with their own family, but, can change when around other people.