The owner of an Akita that attacked and seriously injured a 3-year-old boy inside a Lowe’s Home Improvement Store in Riverside, Calif., last Saturday has been arrested by the Murietta Police Department.
Robert Steven Kahn, 62, of Murrieta, was booked at the Southwest Detention Center in French Valley on Thursday, Jan. 2, on suspicion of criminal negligence after police discovered two previous incidents of the animal showing aggression toward small children, according to the Press Enterprise.
Lt. Tony Conrad of the Murrieta Police Department, stated that their investigation disclosed that there had been at least two previous incidents in which the Akita – a 3-year-old neutered Akita named Chester – tried to bite small children.
Both incidents happened in Murrieta in October and November and involved children ages 3 and 5. Neither incident was reported to police or animal control, he said. The injuries were less severe and the children did not have to be hospitalized.
In one case, the dog bit down on a child’s arm and in the other it scraped a child’s finger, Conrad said.
The child bitten Saturday at Lowe’s suffered injuries to his jaw, neck, forehead and right eye and required dozens of stitches, after the child had been told by Kahn’s it was all right to pet the dog, officials said.
The Akita was seized Sunday at Kahn’s Madison Avenue address—near the Lowe’s store— and will remain in protective custody for ten days at the shelter in Wildomar, said Monique Middleton, animal control supervisor for Animal Friends of the Valleys, which provides animal control services in Murrieta.
"It will be up to the District Attorney's Office or the police department regarding what to do with the dog," Middleton said. "He could be euthanized or placed with a (canine) rescue organization.”
A spokesperson for Lowe's told the Patch that the only animals permitted inside its stores are service animals. Signs indicating that rule are posted at the front entrance of stores, according to Lowe's Spokeswoman Karen Cobb.
Lowe’s had indicated that Kahn brought the dog into the store regularly when he was identified on the store’s surveillance video after the attack. There was no mention of the Akita being a service dog.
The attack on the 3-year-old toddler happened around 11:45 a.m. on Saturday 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.