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Kenneth Clodo SantillanPATERSON, NJ — Here’s a nightmare of a story that brought back memories of a childhood incident I experienced. Kenneth Santillan, 13, was found dead after he and a friend were attacked by a bullmastiff as they walked home from school Friday afternoon.

Details are still a bit fuzzy, so I’m sure some of the details below will change, but Santilla and a friend were walking along a stretch of grass that lies between a creek and the back of homes in a Hillcrest neighborhood. One of these fenced-in backyards housed “Trigger”, a 115-pound bull mastiff.

Again, no details on what spurned the attack, but afterwards the boys ran off in separate directions. A neighbor reported that thee 13-year-old boy who was with Santillan ran to her with a bloody hand, claiming he and his friend had been attacked by the dog. She gave him some paper towels for his injury and he continued on his way.

Police were called out to the residence where they found dog’s owner, 50-year-old Paul Clarke, suffering from injuries after he was also attacked by Trigger, and resorted to stabbing the dog several times. Trigger was put down by animal control officers at the scene because he “was bleeding to death,” said  animal control officer John DeCando. Trigger’s body has been sent off so it can be tested for rabies.

Paul Clarke and Trigger

Paul Clarke and Trigger

However, Santillan was nowhere to be found. After searching the area for a few hours, a resident found the teen half submerged in the nearby creek. The man who found Santillan told reporters he believed the boy froze to death, but an official cause of death has not been determined.

Neighbors had different opinions on Clarke and his dog. Some said that aside from barking, Trigger has never been aggressive. They say Trigger only got agitated when kids would taunt the dog, which they often did. Neighbors said kids would bark at Trigger or throw rocks at him, even going on Clarke’s property to mess with the dog.

Other neighbors said they were scared of the dog and that it had bitten a teen before. Police have reportedly been called out on multiple occasions due to complaints of the dog jumping over its fence and into neighbors’ yards. They also said they felt the dog was neglected, often left outside in freezing temperatures.

The family of the teen who survived the attack have hired a lawyer, while Santillan’s family have stated they are planning on taking legal action against Clarke. “He never hurt a soul,” the teen’s father said. “He did not deserve to die like this.”

No charges have been filed at this time, but police are continuing with their investigation.

At this time, no one knows if Santillan and his friend were messing with Trigger, but when I was a kid there was a German Shepard chained to a doghouse in the backyard we cut through on the way to and from school. We would often tease the dog because it couldn’t get at us.

That is, until the day the dog broke his chain.

I can honestly say that’s the fastest I have ever ran in my entire life. Five of us scattered like rats on a sinking ship, every man for himself. I ended up climbing inside a boat that had been parked in a driveway and didn’t make a break for it until the dog got bored with me and started fucking a lab next door.

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