A severe attack by a customer’s dog inside a Lowe’s home improvement store in Murietta, California, sent a 3-year-old boy to the hospital with serious injuries on Saturday. After the attack, the owner reportedly fled with the dog.
The attack happened around 11:45 a.m. at the Lowe’s garden center at 24701 Madison Avenue, according to NBC San Diego. (Murietta is a city in Riverside County.)
Murrieta police said the dog’s owner let the little boy pet the dog—an Akita—which the man regularly brings into the store with him. However, when the boy touched the dog, it lashed out and bit him on the jaw, neck, forehead and below his right eye. That’s when the man grabbed his dog and left in a white pickup truck.
The boy was taken to the Inland Valley Regional Medical Center, where he received about 50 stitches. He was then transferred to Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. He is reported in stable condition.
Lowe’s refused to give police the surveillance footage, NBC reports, but officers were able to get a still frame that shows the man and the dog (shown above.)
Because the dog’s owner is a regular Lowe’s customer, the police obtained information which identified him as a 62-year-old man who lives less than a mile from the store. Officers went to the home and the man told police he fled because he was afraid his dog would be taken away.
The Akita is currently being quarantined. It’s unclear if the Riverside County District Attorney will press charges against the owner.
Before officers located the man, they asked for the public’s help to find him. The Murietta Patch posted the description provided by witnesses, who said the owner was an older man with an average build, dark hair, a bald spot and salt-and-pepper facial hair. He was wearing a light-colored collared shirt and dark denim pants at the time of the dog attack.
The Akita was described as brown with black and white markings, possibly wearing a red collar or tag that said “Clark” on it.
When NBC News questioned the store’s manager about the policy of allowing dogs inside the store, they were informed it is a corporate decision.