David Fear was a true hero when he protected woman during dog attack

David Fear and Terry, his partner of 25 years.
David Fear and Terry, his partner of 25 years.

The word “hero” is often used loosely these days. It’s applied to stellar athletes, to off-beat adventure seekers, to fictional characters with superpowers.

There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as we never forget to honor the true heroes among us — those who distinguish themselves not by playing football or scaling mountains, but through selfless acts of bravery.

It’s a select group, to which Grover Beach resident David Fear clearly belongs. Fear, 64, lost his life last week after protecting Betty Long, his 85-year-old neighbor, from a dog attack.

Long was walking her small dog when, according to witnesses, she was attacked by two large dogs, a Belgian Malinois and a German shepherd, running loose in her Grover Beach neighborhood.

Fear came to her aid, at which point he was attacked, suffering severe injuries and blood loss. He died later at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo. Long sustained a broken pelvis and shoulder and will require four to six weeks of treatment, according to her family.

The Belgian Malinois, identified as the main aggressor in the attack, was euthanized; the other dog has been quarantined.

The investigation into the attack is ongoing. There are many unanswered questions, and many rumors — including speculation that the owner of the dogs will get special treatment because he is a Grover Beach police officer who has been placed on administrative leave during the investigation.

That cannot happen. We expect authorities to handle this fairly, professionally and, because a police officer is involved, with the utmost transparency. That’s why we believe authorities should release the name of the dogs’ owner.

That’s also the conclusion of the national nonprofit organization, DogsBite.org, which is dedicated to reducing serious dog attacks.

This comes from the organization’s blog:

“Does the public have the right to know this officer’s name after his ‘personal’ dog killed a man and seriously injured a woman? We believe it best serves the public interest that he is identified, along with the history of his Belgian Malinois. Otherwise, this obvious missing information only serves to further rumors.”

Exactly. The name of the officer is going to come out — the families of both victims are planning to take legal action — and the longer it’s kept quiet, the more rumors will grow and fester.

This was a horrific — and preventable — incident, and shedding light on how it occurred is the best way to prevent it from ever happening again.

Our hearts go out to family and friends of victims Betty Long and David Fear.

We wish Long the swiftest possible recovery, and we offer this message to David Fear’s loved ones: Please know that he is a true hero, and an inspiration to us all.

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