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Coroner rules death of baby killed by dog was accident

Published: Wed, September 24, 2008 @ 12:10 a.m.

By Ed Runyan

The parents wanted to bring the baby into the kitchen, but her bed was too large to fit through the doorway.

LEAVITTSBURG — The Trumbull County coroner’s office has ruled the death of a 3-day-old girl, killed by the family dog Monday morning, an accident.

But Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk, the county’s forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy on the infant, said the death reinforces the need for people to understand that dogs are not people.

“An animal cannot tell the difference between a plaything and a human being,” Dr. Germaniuk said, adding that dogs are “guided by instinct” and are sometimes territorial.

The baby had been home from the hospital only one day when the family dog, a Siberian husky, pulled her from her baby bed in the parents’ bedroom and dragged her into another room, police said.

A Warren Township police report doesn’t specify what type of bed the child was in, but it says the parents had been unable to bring the baby’s bed into the kitchen with them during breakfast because it was too large to fit through the bedroom door.

The baby’s mother had fed the child before 10 a.m, put her back in her bed and had gone to the kitchen to make the family breakfast.

A little while later, at around 10 a.m., she and her husband realized the husky had the baby in its mouth in the family room, police said.

The husky complied when the husband ordered the dog to let go of the baby, but the child had suffered multiple blunt-force and sharp-force injuries and died at Forum Health Trumbull Memorial Hospital at about 10:45 a.m. The baby had been born there Friday.

Dr. Germaniuk said the baby suffered injuries to nearly all of her body, including chest, back, arms, legs and face. The baby weighed a little more than 5 pounds.

The baby had a pulse when paramedics first arrived but died either en route to or at the hospital, Dr. Germaniuk said.

The father told police he had let the dogs outside but thinks he may have let them back into the house a short time before the attack. The couple also has a beagle dog, police said.

Debbie Agostinelli, shelter director for the Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County, said it appears the dog did not attack the child but more likely viewed her as a toy.

She said she has spoken with a member of the baby’s family, who said the 7-year-old dog was used to playing with squeaky toys and stuffed animals. Based on what the family member told her, it looks like the dog “simply mistook the baby for a toy,” Agostinelli said.

It’s possible the baby may have made a noise that excited the dog and made the animal want to play, she said.

Agostinelli said it is her understanding that the dog, which is being housed at Trumbull County Dog Kennel in Howland, will be euthanized.

Agostinelli said a pet killing a child is very rare. She said she’s not aware of anything like this happening in the area in many years.

She said standard advice given to parents bringing a newborn home to a house with a dog is to begin to make the dog feel comfortable with the child by introducing the baby’s smells to the dog before the baby comes home by wrapping the baby in a blanket and letting the dog smell the blanket.

And when mom and baby come home, make sure the dog gets to spend quality time with mom separate from the baby. Eventually introduce the baby and dog to each other and reward the dog for good behavior around the baby.

“The more you push the dog away from the baby, it makes the dog more intent on seeing the baby,” Agostinelli said.

Throughout this period, never leave the baby and dog unattended, she said.

Warren Township Police have not completed their investigation, Lt. Don Bishop said Tuesday.



1nottamomma(1 comment)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

This is a very tragic thing...But I really dont feel the dog should be euthanized because of it...Im sure someone would love to have the animal as part of their family...A husky is not a vicious animal and the dog doesnt realize what it had done....My thoughts and prayers go out to the family....God Bless

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2trinity316(1 comment)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

If this dog had been a Rotwieler or Pit Bull people would be out of control mad! The dog would be put down and the people would be in jail. I am very sorry for this family, but I think the double standard here is highly disturbing. Hopefully this tragedy will open people's eyes and teach them to be more careful around ANY animal.

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3l826w(8 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

I agree with you. There are many no-kill shelters out there but, they must disclose what has happened. Many folks looking to adopt may be reluctant because of the incident; leaving the poor dog without a family. If there's someone without children and without planning on having a family, it would be wonderful if they could adopt it.
Very tragic accident. My thoughts are with the entire family - including the dog.

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4paulydel(1607 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

My heart and my prayers go out to this family and I know they must be devistated. I believe however that the dog should not be put down. This was a horrible accident and the dog hasn't had any problems before. I would also like to see the dog moved to a no kill shelter or maybe some farm home might take him.

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5paulydel(1607 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

Although I agree, you can't compare rotweilers and pit bulls because they have different personalties. They were bred to be killers and thats in their instinct to be that way. The huskie is basically a good dog and not been brought up through the ages to be trained killers. I am sure that the family wishes they had been more aware and the only thing we can do as fellow human beings is be supportive and pray for them.

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6Dawg(1 comment)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

[quote]Although I agree, you can't compare rotweilers and pit bulls because they have different personalties. They were bred to be killers and thats in their instinct to be that way.[/quote]

Dogs are dogs.
[quote]The huskie is basically a good dog [/quote]
The Husky is a dog just like EVERY other dog including the Pit Bull Breeds.
In fact this is the 2nd fatality involving a Husky in as many weeks.
Huskies and husky type dogs are responsible for 70% of the fatalities in Canada.

Serious bites and the very RARE fatalities are NOT Breed Specific.

My condolences to this family.
The Media needs to stop what they are doing.
They need to shoulder a LOT of the blame for these VERY rare Canine fatalities.
They could be prevented if the Media would cease the Pit Bull Hysteria and educate people about children and dogs.
They NEED to be supervised at ALL times no matter the Breed/type.
11 Different Breeds/types have been involved in fatalities in Ohio.

Time to quit blaming dogs for being dogs.
Education of people is the key to reducing bites and to preventing tragedies like this.
The type of dog is irrelevant.
Very small dogs have killed children.

It`s time to start educating people and to stop this Pit Bull nonsense.
There is one story on this tragic case that doesn`t even name the Breed of dog.
Can you imagine that happening if this dog had been alleged to be a Pit Bull?
The Press wouldn`t be saying an alleged Pit Bull mistook the bay for a stuffed animal.
Forget the dogs and put the focus where it needs to be...ON PEOPLE.

No baby or child should EVER be left alone with ANY dog of ANY Breed or type.

ANY dog is capable of seriously injuring/killing a baby or small child.

From the National Canine Research Council

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7dmets(575 comments)posted 7 years, 10 months ago

Any dog can turn on a person and bit or hurt then. A pug killed a new born in the past couple months, too. People need to take the time to get their dog used to the idea of a baby that will be in the home. People should never ever leave a baby or children alone in a room with a dog. My heart goes out to the family!!!

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