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Kevin Cullen

In memory of Javian Candolario

Flowers, candles, and a black ribbon marked the scene where Javian Candolario was mauled to death in Lowell.Jim Davis/Globe Staff/file/Globe Staff

His name was Javian Candolario.

He was sweet and inquisitive and he was 7 years old and he’ll never see 8 because a couple

of pit bulls tore him to pieces in Lowell the other day.

Rodney Elliott is a Lowell city councilor and will go to his grave believing there is a chance Javian would be alive today if a state law had not negated a 2011 ordinance he sponsored that required, among other things, that pit bulls be kept in pens when outside.

In the days that have followed Javian’s death, Elliott has received emails from across the country, and even a few from Lowell residents, suggesting that he is an ignorant jerk for wanting to reinstate restrictions on owning pit bulls.


“About the nicest thing they’ve called me is a dog hater,” he said.

Oliver, Elliott’s Bichon Frise, would be surprised to hear his owner being dismissed as a dog hater, because Elliott is very good to Oliver. Oliver weighs 13 pounds and the worse thing he could do to you is pee on your leg.

Pit bulls are capable of killing people, and they killed Javian Candolario in the most gruesome fashion.

I’d like to see the get-a- lifers who are spewing hatred at a guy who is trying to do the right thing sit down with Javian Candolario’s mother and tell her that Javian’s death is regrettable but, hey, pit bulls have rights, too.

That mother saw what was done to her son. She will never be the same. Nor will others who saw it. Five of the police officers who arrived too late to save Javian are traumatized, receiving counseling. They will never unsee what they saw.

After police shot one of the dogs, it jumped the fence and ran for a mile before police cornered it and put it down.


“That dog had 15 bulllets in it,” Rodney Elliott said.

The details are still sketchy, but it appears Javian went to pat the dogs, who were in a fenced yard.

“The dogs pulled him over the fence,” Elliott said.

What followed, what was done to the boy’s body, was horrific beyond words.

“I think if people knew the gruesome details, they might not be as quick to judge the idea of placing more restrictions on owning pit bulls,” Elliott said.

Maybe he’s right. But, out of respect for the family, he’s not disclosing those details.

Elliott said the dogs’ owner works as a corrections officer and did not register the dogs with the city as required. Nor does it appear the dogs had the required rabies shots. The dogs’ owner has a lot to answer for.

Javian Candolario will be waked Friday at the Fay McCabe Funeral Home, where the good folks are donating their services. There will be a funeral Mass at St. Michael’s on Saturday, and Javian will be buried in a donated plot.

But Rodney Elliott believes the city of Lowell owes Javian Candolario more, a legacy that will protect others in his memory. He has heard experts claim there is no data showing that pit bulls are more dangerous than other breeds but he laments the dearth of data and says common sense, and common decency, demands more.

He was heartened to learn that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an animal rights organization, issued a statement Thursday saying they agreed on the need for placing restrictions on pit bull ownership. If PETA favors restrictions now, he says, others can change their minds.


“Pit bulls are the most often abused, most frequently abandoned, and most likely dogs to be left in a backyard like a cheap alarm system with a beating heart,” said Daphna Nachminovitch, PETA’s vice president of cruelty investigations. “PETA supports the city of Lowell in its efforts to regulate pit bull breeding and urges it to pass a mandatory spay and neuter law that would protect all members of the community, including the dogs themselves.”

Cue the emails, claiming the PETA people are dog haters.

Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at cullen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeCullen.