The mother of a 12-year-old boy killed in his own home by one of the family's two pit bulls said she had been so concerned about one of the dogs that she shut her son in the basement to protect him.

Maureen Faibish (search) said she ordered Nicholas to stay in the basement while she did errands on June 3, the day he was attacked by one or both of the dogs. She said she was worried about the male dog, Rex, who was acting possessive because the female, Ella, was in heat.

"I put him down there, with a shovel on the door," Faibish told the San Francisco Chronicle (search). "And I told him: 'Stay down there until I come back.' Typical Nicky, he wouldn't listen to me."

Nicholas apparently found a way to open the basement door.

Faibish said she felt compelled to call the Chronicle Saturday to defend herself against widespread public outrage directed at families with children who own pit bulls.

"My kids got along great with [the dogs]," she told the newspaper. "We were never seeing any kind of violent tendencies."

Faibish found her son's body in a bedroom. He was covered in blood from several wounds, including a major head injury. No charges have been filed.

Ella was shot to death by a police officer the day of the attack. Rex was taken to a shelter, but Faibish said she wanted him put down.

"I think of Rex as someone who ... murdered my child," she said.