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Casey Christie / The California

Kern County Animal Control officers and Kern County Sheriff deputies responded to this scene on Washington Avenue Thursday morning in Oildale where a man and a woman were attacked by dogs and were taken to the hospital with major injuries.

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Casey Christie / The California

Kern County Animal Control officers and Kern County Sheriff's came to the aid of two people who were mauled by pitbulls Thursday morning.

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Casey Christie / The California

This is the shovel that witnesses say a woman used to ward off the dogs that were attacking her Thursday after she came to the aid of a man who was also being attacked.

Two people were mauled — one seriously — by three pit bulls in Oildale Thursday morning after a man entered the fenced backyard where the dogs were kept and a female neighbor came to his aid.

Police shot and killed two of the dogs; the third was injured and later euthanized.

The unidentified woman, described by Kern County Sheriff’s deputies as in her 50s, suffered major injuries including numerous bites to her upper body, arms and legs. The man, also unidentified but described as in his 30s, suffered moderate injuries.

Kern County Sheriff’s spokesman Ray Pruitt said deputies responded to the 800 block of Washington Avenue about 8 a.m. after receiving a report of a dog attack. When two deputies entered the backyard they saw two pit bulls attacking the woman and one mauling the man.

Both victims were on the ground, shielding themselves from the dogs.

Pruitt said deputies shot the dogs, two of which died instantly. The third was injured and later euthanized by Animal Control.

A total of six shots were fired. One deputy fired three rounds at a pit bull attacking the woman and one round at the second dog mauling her, Pruitt said. The other deputy shot the pit bull attacking the man twice.

Both victims were taken to Kern Medical Center. Their injuries are not considered to be life-threatening.

Pruitt said the injured man had arrived at Washington Avenue address searching for his son, who had been living with the tenant. The man entered the property’s backyard and was confronted by the dogs, two of which attacked him.

The other victim lives nearby and heard the man’s screams. Pruitt said she armed herself with a shovel and ran to his aid.

But two of the dogs attacked her while the third continued mauling the man, Pruitt said. Deputies arrived soon after.

Neither the tenant, who owns the dogs, nor the man’s son, were home at the time of the attack. The tenant arrived later and was questioned by deputies and Animal Control officers.

Blood from the attack was still visible after 9 a.m. in the chained link fenced backyard, a jumble of furniture and mattresses with other items piled in corners.

Local residents said they weren’t aware of the pit bulls being a problem before. Debbie Irving, who lives around the corner, said there were “Beware of Dog” signs on the property. She said she sometimes saw the three dogs being walked together on a leash.

Irving said the man never should have entered the property without the owner present. She said she heard the gunshots and was told the female victim suffered horrible injuries.

“They tore her up,” Irving said.

Area resident Monica Montoya said she’s been in the yard with the pit bulls before and called them friendly dogs. She said one of them recently gave birth to six puppies and may have been trying to protect her young from a stranger.

“Those dogs were good dogs,” she said, adding that the mauling victims were in her prayers.

Statistics provided by Kern County Animal Control show the office responded to 220 confirmed dog bites through July of this year. There were 407 bites in 2012, up from 236 in 2011.

Anyone with information on Thursday’s mauling is asked to call the Kern County Sheriff’s Office at 861-3110.