Family pit bull bites the son of Steelers' James Harrison

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Steelers linebacker James Harrison's toddler son was injured Wednesday when the family's pit bull became agitated and bit him.

The boy, James Harrison III, was taken to Children's Hospital, where a friend of the family said he is in stable condition.

The boy's mother, Beth Tibbott, was also bitten when she intervened. The friend, who was present during the attack and asked that her name not be used, said Ms. Tibbott has been released from UPMC Presbyterian.

Mr. Harrison, 31, the NFL defensive player of the year last season, could not be reached for comment. He was not home at the time of the attack.

At Mr. Harrison's home on Matterhorn Drive in Franklin Park, the family friend said yesterday that Mr. Harrison was at the gym in the late afternoon Wednesday when she, Ms. Tibbott and the baby were outside in the yard, which is fenced.

"The baby wanted to see the dog," she said. "[Ms. Tibbott] went to the cage and cleaned the dog's eyes. He was near the entrance of the cage and wanted to come out, and I told her, and she said the dog is fine with the baby.

"And he was fine. He walked out and went to the bathroom and walked around. He was on his back and I was stroking his belly, then the baby started to cry and, you know, act like a baby, and the dog got on top of him."

She said the dog bit the baby at the top of the thigh and that Ms. Tibbott began screaming and threw herself on top of the baby.

"She said, 'Take the baby, take the baby,' so I picked up the baby and ran and put him on the other side of the fence and called 911."

A different neighbor who also did not want to be identified said a Franklin Park police officer knocked on her door around 6 p.m.

"The officer was warning us to keep our children inside because [Mr. Harrison's] dog had bit somebody. He said to keep everybody inside until it was resolved."

Triangle Animal Control came to the home and took the dog after the victims were taken to the hospital.

A Children's Hospital spokesman said the family asked that no information about the child be released.

Mr. Harrison's agent, William Parise, said the boy's injuries were "serious but certainly not life-threatening. I think any time a child is injured and requires hospitalization, it's a serious thing. I know James was very concerned about his son."

Mr. Harrison told the agent his son likely will be hospitalized another day or two.

Franklin Park police secretary Diane Rose said she could not say whether the police were taking any action. Chief Donald Dorsch "requested that we say 'No comment,' " she said. An incident report was filed and she said the matter is still under investigation.

The Harrison's friend said the dog, which was about 4, was otherwise "a lovely and amazing dog. But with the crying and the flailing, he must have thought the baby was prey."

Another neighbor, who also asked that her name not be used, described the dog as "a cuddlebug" who would roll over for his belly to be rubbed.

Mr. Parise said Mr. Harrison has not had trouble with the animal in the past.

"I've been with that dog personally, he's a wonderful animal," Mr. Parise said.

Ray Fate, animal control officer for Triangle Animal Control, said Mr. Harrison wants the dog to be killed.

"Mr. Harrison put the dog in the truck for me, but there was no problem. He's a good dog and listens well, but as a father, you can understand." He said the dog will be held in quarantine for 10 days before it is injected.

The Steelers issued this statement: "We are aware of this unfortunate situation. We express our concern for his family and hope that everyone involved makes a complete recovery."

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Lillian Thomas can be reached at or 412-263-3566. Diana Nelson Jones can be reached at or 412-263-1626.


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