12 children bitten in pit bull attack on OK school playground

12 children bitten in pit bull attack on OK school playground
As they consider whether to euthanize the pit bull, animal control officials are searching for the dog’s owner, who may face dangerous dog charges. (Source: KFOR/Tribune/CNN)

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR/CNN) - A teacher at an Oklahoma elementary school is being praised as a hero for tacking a pit bull that bit several third and fourth graders on the playground.

Twelve children received non-life-threatening injuries Monday afternoon at Millard Fillmore Elementary in Oklahoma City when a dog, described as a pit bull mix, entered the school playground.

"The dog came on and started to attack some of the kids. Then, of course, the kids began to scream and panic, which excited the dog and scared the dog even more. So, you know, his natural instinct was to keep biting and going after the kids,” Fire Capt. David Macy said.

The dog also entered the school, where special education teacher Lee Hughes tackled and pinned it down.

"We're going to have to have a Lee Hughes day or something at school," one school official said.

But Hughes says he’s no hero.

“Everybody just did what they were supposed to do,” he said.

The twelve injured children were taken to the hospital and were all released by the end of the night.

Students described the experience as being scary.

"I was coming over here, and we were all running. There were kids behind me, and I fell and got trampled by kids. I was just so scared. I didn't expect this to happen,” said sixth grader Sebastian Zermeno, whose arm was hurt in the incident.

Parents also expressed concerns.

Father William Valasquez, whose children go to the school but weren’t hurt Monday, says he’s never had an issue with the school, but he would like it to take another look at security.

"Me and my wife came the other day to bring my daughter some snacks… and I seen the kids on the playground, and I saw my daughter. And, as I was driving, I saw the gate wide open,” he said.

School district officials say security is an issue they are studying at all their schools.

Tuesday, the Millard Fillmore principal wrote in a letter that district crews repaired fencing and installed locks on the playground gates.

The dog is in the custody of Oklahoma City Animal Welfare. Officials say they don’t know where it came from, but they believe it isn’t a stray.

The dog, estimated to be 1 year old, may be euthanized Saturday.

If officials identify the dog’s owner(s), they could face dangerous dog charges.

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