A Houston mother watched in horror as her trusted Labrador attacked her 2-week old baby, who later died from the injuries.
The woman, who has not been identified, was watching her newborn from a window when the family dog pushed through French doors into the room where the baby was alone. The dog first sniffed the baby, who was resting in an infant carrier, and then mauled him. Family members quickly responded by pulling the dog off the baby and placing it in a kennel, but it was too late.
The infant was airlifted to Memorial Hermann Hospital at around 8:15 p.m. Saturday, but died five hours later.
Experts say that even docile, friendly animals can become aggressive around unfamiliar people -- especially young children -- who may not immediately register as humans in the dog's perception.
When an unfamiliar smelling, wiggling squealing tiny being is left alone they may go to investigate. The baby was unfamiliar and the dog investigates as a dog does, certified dog behavior consultant Jennifer Shryock told the Houston Chronicle. Just like all relationships, a dog needs time to become familiar with the new baby in the home.
This is second fatal dog mauling of an infant within the last month. Previously, a nine-month-old died after being attacked by a dog in North Carolina. According to Dogbite.org, there were 33 fatal dog attacks in 2010, and five of the victims were four years old or younger.
A neighbor, Kevin Patcha, said that the couple had recently started renting the Harris County home.
It's terrible and unexpected, he told the Houston Chronicle. I can't think of anything that would have led to this incident.
Thomas Gilliland, a spokesman for the Harris County Sheriff's Office, told the Chronicle that the dog was taken into custody of animal control, and will be quarantined for ten days before its fate is decided.
He added that the incident will be investigated to determine whether negligence played a role.