Woman, 91, Loses Arms After Attack

Times Staff Writer

A 91-year-old Orange woman remained in critical condition Tuesday after losing her arms to an attacking pit bull that had frightened the neighborhood for more than a year.

The victim, Ruby Sharum, was feeding her great-grandson’s dog, Zion, on Friday when the dog attacked her, mauling both arms beyond repair, Orange police said.

The dog has been euthanized.

Neighbors said they were not surprised by the attack because Zion had turned on Sharum in the past.


They said the dog often roamed the neighborhood unchecked, blocking traffic, growling at children and sometimes sneaking into people’s homes.

On several occasions, neighbors said, they called police and animal control officials to complain about the dog. They said they feared this day would come.

“My kids wouldn’t even go outside half the time,” said Shelbi Moore, who called 911 Friday night after Sharum’s granddaughter, Arlinda Venti, cried for help. “It could’ve been me, it could’ve been my kids.”

Police were not planning to bring charges against Venti’s son, Ian Burkhard, who owned the dog and lived in the house with his mother and great-grandmother, according to Orange Police Sgt. Dave Hill.

On Tuesday, officials with Animal Care Services inspected the house and interviewed neighbors to determine whether a Rottweiler, which also lived at the house and was quarantined on Friday, should be returned to the home.

Venti told officials that her adult son frequently brought dogs into the house. Animal control officials said they had been called to the house several times in the last year, including on Jan. 31, when Sharum was allegedly attacked the first time.


Officials told neighbors Tuesday that Sharum denied that she had been injured in the attack. With no victim, there was nothing they could do, officials said.

“We did respond to a variety of different calls,” said Kathy Francis, manager of the county’s animal care services operations. “We’re not blind to the issues that were going on there.”

Violations must be witnessed by an officer, and too often, Francis said, no one in Sharum’s household would cooperate with them.

“We had anonymous callers reporting in, but there was nothing that we could verify, or the owner was unwilling to speak with us,” she said.

Moore and other neighbors said they often called police to complain about Zion. Police said they had been called only twice in the last year, once when the dogs were interrupting traffic and once when Zion was fighting another dog.

Neighbors said they were happy Zion is gone.

“I’m glad that it’s not going to be out,” said Phil Felix, a neighbor across the street who said he was often afraid to leave his house when Zion roamed the street. “I’m glad that the dog is not going to be a menace.”