LARGO – Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a call Monday afternoon involving a 2-week-old infant girl who had been bitten by the family dog.
Deputies arrived at the residence around 3:31 p.m. Aug. 2, according to a release from the Sheriff’s Office, and found that Suzanne Pound had suffered puncture wounds from the dog, described by deputies as a white German shepherd.
The infant was BayFlited to Bayfront Medical Center in critical condition. As of Tuesday morning, the infant remained hospitalized. Tuesday afternoon, Mac McMullen, public information specialist with the Sheriff’s Office, said her condition was listed as critical but stable.
Deputies investigating the incident reported that the infant was left alone and sleeping on a bed in a bedroom. The grandmother was in another bedroom, and the mother was in the laundry room.
“The grandmother exited her bedroom and observed ‘Spirit,’ a white German shepherd, carrying the baby in its mouth through the house and into the kitchen/laundry room area where the dog dropped the baby,” the release states. “The mother and grandmother wrapped the baby in a blanket and called 911.”
Animal services was notified, as well as detectives from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Crimes Against Children, which according to McMullen is currently investigating the incident. The German shepherd and three other dogs were removed from the house by Pinellas County Animal Services.
Dr. Kenny Mitchell, Pinellas County director of veterinarian services, said the normal routine is to remove dogs that have been involved in incidents where extensive injuries have occured for evaluation. He said it is also his agency’s job to talk to the pet owner about putting the dog down.
Mitchell said the owner of the dog in this case has said she would like the dog back. Mitchell doesn’t believe that is the best solution in terms of protection for the infant and the community.
He said he does not believe the dog is a German shepherd. He said in his opinion the dog is more likely a wolf hybrid. He bases his opinion on the animals physical characteristics and behavior.
“His legs are long and lanky, he holds his tail like a wolf,” Mitchell said. “He’s out there in his cage rearing up against the walls and howling.”
Mitchell said that dog bites injuries are the No. 1 childhood health problem. According to statistics, approximately 70 percent of all dog bites involve children, and almost 50 percent of all children are bitten by the time they reach age 18.
Mitchell recalled the year 2000 when another infant died from dog bite injuries.
Mitchell said he will do his best to convince the owner of Spirit to put the dog down as he believes it is a danger.
“If the animal is a wolf hybrid, its behavior is unpredictable,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a safe situation for the children.”
He said if after the evaulation period, it is determined that the dog should be put down, the owner will be allowed to appeal the decision.