WAILUKU - When 9-year-old Jaren Bo Chun heard screaming and saw a pit bull on top of his younger brother this month at their Haiku residence, he began kicking the dog in the nose.
The animal, which had already bitten 7-year-old Jaden Kiona Chun on his left arm, right hand, right shoulder and face, then turned its attention to Jaren, clamping its mouth onto the older boy's right leg.
"When I kicked him, he got mad and grabbed onto me," Jaren said Wednesday while he and other family members visited with Jaden at Maui Memorial Medical Center. "I was thinking I only had two choices - stand there and my brother is passed away or I would come in and save his life."
Nine-year-old Jaren Bo Chun sits at the bedside of his 7-year-old brother, Jaden Kiona Chun, who has been at Maui Memorial Medical Center since he was attacked by a pit bull this month in Haiku.
The Maui News / LILA FUJIMOTO photo
The boys' parents called Jaren the hero in the dog attack that occurred at about 6 p.m. as the brothers and another boy were playing basketball outside the home on Alekanekelo Place. The boys' mother had a Rottweiller at the residence, where her then-boyfriend kept nine pit bulls.
"If my son didn't kick that dog, I don't know what it would have done to my baby," the boys' father, Jaren Chun, said. "He fought for his brother's life. This was do or die for him. He's not the biggest, maybe not the strongest. He's real softhearted, soft-spoken. I was impressed that he really stood up and got involved."
The boys' mother, Natasha Kaui Chun, said her older son was "being my brother's keeper."
Natasha Chun had been inside taking a shower on the evening of July 21 while the boys played basketball for not even 10 minutes after getting home. She said she wanted to talk about what happened in hopes that it might help other parents realize the dangers.
"I'm not saying I'm so anti-pit bull," said Chun, who also owns a female pit bull kept at her ex-husband's residence. "But I definitely believe in raising your dog as a member of your family from a puppy. They're very unpredictable if you don't know what they have been through. I just want other parents to be aware."
The elder Jaren Chun said he has "always been pro-pit bull."
"They have always been real protective of my kids," he said. "Now this is really making me question my stand on animals. It's all how the dog's raised. Just having a dog of that strength and caliber and magnitude, just one bite can break bones and do so much damage."
Ice, the 95-pound male blue-nose pit bull who attacked the boys, was on a 50-foot runner with a 2-foot lead, with a car parked between the dog and the area where the boys were playing, Natasha Chun said.
After hearing high-pitched screaming from her then-boyfriend's son, Chun said she went outside and saw her 50-pound youngest son bleeding and on the ground. "He gets up, runs into my arms, saying, 'Mommy, save me.' I was holding my baby, and I couldn't reach my other son."
Her brother and her then-boyfriend, Shane Louro, showed up.
Louro said he put his hand in the dog's mouth to pull its jaws open and release Jaren before taking the boy away from the dog. Focused on Jaren, Louro said he at first didn't realize Jaden was hurt.
Police responded to document what happened and contacted the Maui Humane Society, said Lt. Wayne Ibarra, Maui Police Department spokesman. The Maui Humane Society didn't respond to a request for information.
Louro, who had been trying to start a kennel at the property, said he voluntarily took the dog to the Maui Humane Society and had the 3 1/2-year-old euthanized after the attack.
"It was tough, but I wanted to take care of the problem myself," Louro said. "I knew the dog bit the boy.
"I took him down, he kissed me a couple of times. He went away wagging his tail. He wasn't a bad dog.
"Ice is not a mean dog. If he was mean, I wouldn't have had him around my children in the first place."
Ice had been a favorite of Jaden, who would feed and pet the usually calm dog, family members said.
Louro said the purebred pit bull, which he had bought for thousands of dollars from someone on the Big Island about six months earlier, is normally kept in a locked kennel, as are his other dogs on the fenced property.
But that day, he said Natasha Chun had asked him to put the dog on a runner as a security measure while no one was home because someone had been trying to break into the house.
"His comfort zone is inside his kennel," Louro said. "He's out of his element."
Ice hadn't grown up around children, Louro said, but was getting used to the kids around the property.
Previously, Louro said, the dog had been bothered by basketballs that kids had thrown at his kennel. "He's scared of the basketball," Louro said.
"I'm not trying to put the blame on anybody else," Louro said. "It's my dog, my responsibility. It's a very unfortunate incident for Kiona, for Bo, for my son. They're all traumatized.
"My heart goes out to everybody involved in the situation, including the dog. The only person I blame is me. The bottom line is I should have known better as the dog's owner."
The elder Jaren Chun, who works as a registered nurse at the Maui Memorial emergency room and at Kaiser, said his younger son was being administered antibiotics around the clock since being transported by ambulance to the hospital that evening.
The 2nd-grader at Paia School suffered fractures in his left arm and right hand and also fractured his top jaw, losing his permanent front teeth, his father said. The boy also had a puncture wound to his face. Both of his arms were bandaged as he rested at the hospital Wednesday morning, before another surgery to his right hand, which was becoming infected, his father said.
Jaden, who will be a 5th-grader at Makawao School, didn't break any bones but had his right leg wrapped with a splint and was using crutches to move around. After being bitten, Jaden said, he could see "bacon dripping out" of his leg.
Both boys were having nightmares, the father said, but Jaden was able to rest Tuesday night at the hospital.
"It's a blessing that we have such a good facility here and the great care they give," he said. "We're very, very fortunate to have the great care that we've gotten, from the medics to the doctors. I told the medics, 'I owe you my life for my son.' "
Natasha Chun said she had "a lot of gratitude" for hospital and Kaiser staff who were providing counseling services.
On Wednesday, she said she had packed most of the family's belongings and wasn't ready to return to the property where the attack occurred.
"I don't picture them coming back to my house," Louro said. "I lost my family when that dog bit that boy."
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.