Calaveras County man apparently killed by pit bulls

11:32 PM, Aug 23, 2010   |    comments
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Video: Calaveras man killed in pit bull attack

  • Jerry Lee Yates
  • The two pit bulls involved in the mauling were euthanized

MOUNTAIN RANCH, CA - A Mountain Ranch man was mauled to death by two pit bulls late Sunday afternoon, according to the Calaveras County Sheriff's Office.

Update:  Autopsy shows pit bull victim bled to death

Sheriff's Capt. Jim Macedo said the body of Jerry Yates, 69, was found by his son, Jared, shortly after 5 p.m. between two cars outside a shop building on Yates' 11-acre ranchette on Doster Road.

Yates had large bite marks and torn flesh, according to Macedo.  He said there were also defensive wounds, indicating Yates had tried to fight off the dogs.

Macedo said the dogs also tried to attack Jared Yates, who was able to scare them off with a shotgun.

The dogs belonged to a woman identified as Sheryl Sellers, who Macedo said rented space on the property for her trailer and kept the pit bulls in a fenced area.

Macedo said Sellers was arrested on a single felony charge of allowing vicious animals at large because the fence was clearly insufficient.  "A reasonable person would not expect that type of enclosure to contain those two dogs," he said.  

Sellers voluntarily surrendered the pit bulls to Calaveras County Animal Services. The dogs were euthanized Monday morning. 

An autopsy was planned to determine the exact cause of Yates' death, but Macedo said there were no indications he had any underlying health problems.

Yates' friends in Mountain Ranch said he was a Marine Corps veteran who had served three combat tours in Vietnam.

"For a dog to get him down surprised us," said Phil Alberts, a close friend.  "He was a tough man.  Really, really tough," Alberts said as he choked back tears.

Another friend, Steve Jones, said he questions whether pit bulls should be allowed as pets. "I hope they take those dogs off the streets and make them illegal to own. They're just too dangerous," Jones said. 

Yates owned a gas station and auto parts store in Mountain Ranch, but friends said he stopped pumping gas about a year ago because of new nozzle requirements.  Two boxes shaped like coffins covered the idled gas pumps, both with the inscription "RIP."

On Monday, a Marine Corps and POW/MIA flag fluttered in the breeze outside the store, and a sign on the wall said "out for lunch.  Be back soon."

by Claudia Johnson,
by George Warren,


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