It seems pretty straightforward that if a dog bites someone, it’s a dangerous dog and should be kept away from people or, in serious cases, euthanized. But this case, which is still developing, is anything but straightforward.
According to local authorities, a 4-year-old boy in Layton, Utah, was playing in his own backyard when for reasons unknown at this time, he decided to put a sock on his hand and interact with the neighbor’s dog.
The neighbor has two dogs, Polar and Bear, described as Huskies, who look like young dogs in the photos that have been circulating online. The way the boy got to the dog is still unclear, though.
Sources seem to have some confusion over the setting, as some say the boy stuck his sock-covered hand “in a gap between the ground and a solid vinyl fence” and others say he stuck it “through a chain-link fence.”
The petition that has started circulating states “through a fence” and then later says the dog allegedly couldn’t see it was a child on the other side, suggesting that the fencing was solid.
Video of the neighborhood shows a lot of vinyl fencing, though Battalion Chief Jason Cook with the Layton City Fire Department did say the child reached “through” the fence.
The reason the difference matters is because after the boy stuck his arm into the dogs’ backyard, one of them engaged with the sock-covered hand, and ended up biting off the boy’s hand and even part of his arm.
A dog bit off a four-year-old boy’s hand. But now, more than 100-thousand people have signed a petition in support of the two dogs taken by animal control in Utah. The boy reached his hand through the fence, then the husky bit it off. What do you think needs to happen? pic.twitter.com/OBSJ8JT7tY
— Haley Bianco (@HaleyBianco) March 6, 2019
Dogs can be territorial, but if a wild moving sock suddenly appeared along the property line, any dog would be tempted to engage. Even Cook said it looked like a situation where “innocent play” went wrong.
The boy’s parents acted quickly to stem the bleeding, and first responders soon arrived. The boy was taken by helicopter to a Salt Lake City hospital.
While the boy was being taken care of, others looked for the missing hand. They didn’t find it and had to assume that the dog ingested it.
Both the dog who bit off and allegedly ate the boy’s hand and the other dog, who had not been involved, were taken by animal control to begin mandatory 10-day quarantine.
“There’s a severe injury to a human,” Director of Davis County Animal Control Rhett Nicks told KTVX. “So we are doing a dangerous dog investigation which could range from nothing being done up to including euthanasia.”
The dogs have no history of aggression, so many are considering this an unfortunate accident but are pleading for the dog’s life. Jessica Nusz is a friend of the dogs’ owner, and she started a petition to save the dog.
“My best friend’s dog was involved in an unfortunate accident yesterday where a little boy stuck his arm through a fence and he had a sock on his arm,” she wrote. “Bear, who was playing with what he thought was a toy, he bit down too hard and didn’t see that there was a child on the other side of the fence.”
“With him being a dog, he thought it was a game of tug of war and he bit down too hard and took a lower portion of his arm. This situation is unfortunate on both sides.”
“And now both dogs are in quarantine at Davis county animal control. There are fears that Bear might be put down and he doesn’t deserve to be put down for this freak accident.”
Given the lack of information, it’s difficult to determine just who was at fault here, but perhaps it was — as Nusz suggested — just a horrible “freak accident.”
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