A day after the family's pit bull fatally attacked his pregnant wife, Greg Napora said Friday he doesn't blame the dog. He even plans to bury his spouse, Darla, with their pet's cremated remains in her casket.
"They are the most loving animals I have ever had in my life. Whatever happened right now was not the breed's fault," said Napora, who found his wife dead when he returned to the couple's Pacifica home from his construction job with plans to take her to lunch Thursday. "It was just a freak accident."
Police shot and killed the dog, named Gunner, when they say he approached emergency workers, but Greg Napora said Gunner didn't charge them, as was reported by some media outlets.
Horrified neighbors left flowers in front of the tiny white house on Reina Del Mar Avenue, where a "Beware of the Dog" sign hung from the fence. Darla Napora loved her dogs -- 2-year-old male Gunner and a 6-year-old female pit bull, Tazi -- family said, and was an avid supporter of Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pit bulls, or Bad Rap, which seeks to change attitudes toward the polarizing breed.
She was also ecstatic about being pregnant with the couple's first child, said her mother, Sandy Robinson, of Seattle, who described Darla as the "heart of the family."
"She was the one who held the family together," Robinson said.
Greg Napora said he does not know why Gunner, who the couple had raised from a puppy, attacked his wife. Investigators also have no idea what may have led to the attack but hope an autopsy of Darla Napora and a necropsy of the dog will give them clues.
Greg Napora said he left for work about 8 a.m. as his wife was asleep with both dogs in the bed. When he arrived home about noon, he found the dog standing over her body and made a frantic 911 call.
Greg Napora declined to discuss what happened next, but police said his hands were cut while wrestling the dog into another room. Neighbors reported seeing him screaming and covered in his wife's blood as emergency crews worked to save her.
Pacifica police Capt. Dave Bertini said investigators have some theories about what happened but are waiting for exam results, which they hope to have back in a few weeks. Police said, however, they have no reason to believe foul play was involved.
"But you never know, so that is why we're waiting for the reports to make sure we didn't miss anything," Bertini said.
Peninsula animal care officers took custody of the couple's other pit bull, Tazi, and are examining her as part of their effort to piece together the attack. Police said that dog was not involved in the woman's death.
The two dogs may have had a fight, said Scott Delucchi, spokesman for the Peninsula Humane Society. But he said it was also possible that Gunner was provoked by something getting in the way of food or a toy he wanted.
"We don't know what triggered this," Delucchi said. "Nobody knows."
The family wants to get their surviving dog back as soon as possible.
"Tazi is kind of our rock. Right now we need her back," Robinson said. "It's what Greg has left right now."
In the meantime, the excruciating loss had begun to sink in for Darla Napora's devastated family.She was in the early stages of pregnancy, and the two would-be parents, who were married three years ago in Las Vegas, had decided against finding out the gender of their baby.
"It would have been a surprise for all of us," Robinson said.
A native of Yakima, Wash., Darla Napora was an organizer of family functions, but was also known for an ability to sense when someone needed help.
It was perhaps that spirit that led her into work behind a bar, which she had done since coming to the Bay Area more than 11 years ago. She managed the bar at the high-end 231 Ellsworth Restaurant in San Mateo, and also sold wine for a brokerage.
Chris Templin, general manager for 231 Ellsworth, where Darla Napora worked almost every night of the week, got a call just before 5 p.m. Thursday. It was Greg Napora.
"He was very upset," Templin said. "And he said Darla wouldn't be coming in to work."
She had a talent for making drinks by simply asking customers what they were in the mood for and coming up with her own concoctions, Templin said. "She always came to work with a smile on her face."
The family did not want funeral arrangements to be made public and have asked the public to respect their privacy.
This death has reignited a fierce debate about whether pit bulls should be allowed as pets.
The anti-pit bull set is calling for a ban of the dogs, but those who run groups like Bad Rap cite the adorable attributes of pit bulls and point fingers at other breeds of dogs that bite and maul.
In a study by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association between 1978 and 1998, pit bulls topped the list of known breeds to have killed people, followed by Rottweilers, German shepherds, huskies and Doberman pinschers.
But pit bulls aren't necessarily the problem, Delucchi said, although even pit bull supporters would admit that "bigger dogs can do a whole lot more damage."
It's often that people ignore or don't see signs of fear or aggression in an animal and, therefore, don't "take care of the problem immediately," Delucchi said.
Neither Tazi nor Gunner had formal complaints against them, Delucchi said, and by all accounts "they were good dogs."
If that proves to be true in Tazi's case, Delucchi said the humane society would be happy to give her back to Greg Napora.
"He lost his wife and his unborn child, and the dog is what he has left," Delucchi said. "Getting Tazi back would be the only good outcome."
Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335.
Pit bulls and other dogs have harmed and killed other Bay Area residents. Here is a list of some of those cases:
2010: A pit bull attacked a 41-year-old San Jose woman in the 3000 block of Whitesand Drive in San Jose's Evergreen neighborhood. The dog bit the woman on her arm and hip, and she was released from the hospital.
2010: Jacob Bisbee, a 2-year-old Concord boy, was killed by three pit bulls owned by his step-grandfather.
2010: A 7-year-old East Oakland girl was bitten in the face by a pit bull and was expected to recover after a chunk of her cheek was ripped out.
2009: Two 80-pound, unneutered American bulldog-pit bull-mix dogs, Sharky and Chief, attacked a San Jose animal control officer on her arms, legs and buttocks.
2008: A pit bull mix named Tazz savaged the face of a 20-month-old girl and attacked her grandmother in San Jose.
2007: A neighbor's pit bull attacked Angela Silva, of Fremont, when she was in her garage. She hid her baby in a garbage can to avoid attack. Silva lived but had many surgeries and still lives with pain.
2005: Twelve-year-old Nicholas Faibish was mauled to death by the family's two pit bulls in San Francisco.
2001: Perhaps the most infamous of all the dog-mauling cases in the Bay Area involved Diane Whipple, who was killed in her San Francisco apartment by two Presa Canario dogs.
Source: Bay Area News Group reporting/archives.