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Pit Bull Kills Baby in Detroit: Is it Owner’s Fault or Dog's?

A 3-week-old baby girl was killed by a Pit Bull in west Detroit on Thursday, October 4. Her 24-year-old mother said she had just fed the infant and placed her in a car seat on the dining room floor at a friend’s home, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The sad incident occurred in the 700 block of Stahelin Avenue, near Tireman Street. The baby was reportedly taken to Sinai-Grace Hospital by an emergency vehicle with a police escort blocking traffic, in the hope she could be saved.

Detroit police seized the 2-year-old male Pit Bull, named King, from the home shortly after 5:45 p.m. Thursday, according to reports.

Detroit police said the dog was not vicious toward the officers as it was being taken away. The family also claimed the dog was not vicious and that there are other children in the house.

The dog owners believe the Pit Bull smelled the baby formula on the infant's clothes, according to reports. The dog mauled the infant's face.

The owners stated that the dog, who was just fed scraps out the back door, somehow got into the house and attacked the baby while her mother had her back turned, according to the report.

Officials at Detroit's animal control unit asked the Humane Society to euthanize the Pit Bull on Friday morning because “they did not have a vet available,” spokesman Kevin Hatman said. After the dog was euthanized, the body was returned to the city's animal control center to be checked for rabies.

Rose Hill, a neighbor said the dog is well-known in the neighborhood. "They have a pole in their hand to get in the backyard. If the dog is that shouldn't even have the dog, period," said Hill.

"We see pit bulls everywhere now," she added. "You shouldn't have to be scared to come out of your house and see any kind of dog sitting up there. That's not right, at all."

No arrests have been made as yet. Detroit Police sent the case to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office to determine if any charges will be filed, according to theDetroit Free Press.

Merritt Clifton, editor ofAnimal People, maintains a data base that tracks dog attacks by breed. According to his latest report on statistics compiled nationwide, 46 per cent of all fatal dog attacks reported to the media between 1982 and 2011 involved pit bulls or 'close-pit' mixes.


Is this tragic death of a newborn a signal for Pit Bull advocates and humane organizations which claim that all Pit Bulls are just misunderstood “Nanny dogs” and ALL attacks by Pit Bulls are the fault of the owner, to start reconsidering what they are doing? By unilaterally rejecting all efforts to develop laws that would provide reasonable, humane restrictions on anyone who keeps a Pit Bull, how can we improve the odds that these dogs will have "good" owners?

No other-breed of dog is so disproportionately abused or neglected by the person responsible for its care and no other breed suffers so silently. Where are the voices which claim to speak for them as they die in fighting pits or starve to death chained in yards?  The only time there is major outcry (except in the Michael Vick celebrity case which promised major donor support for "saving" his dogs) is when an errant Pit Bull is facing euthanasia because it has mauled or killed! . 

Many of the reports of Pit Bulls suddenly attacking appear to be in homes where the dog is a beloved, trusted, indoor family member. But, this particular report of the 19-day-old baby’s death in Detroit is particularly disturbing for a number of reasons. Was the pole mentioned by the neighbors as “always carried into the yard” by the owners actually used to fend off an aggressive dog? Was it just a threat to keep the dog from jumping up? Or, was it used to harm the dog?

If a dog is only being fed scraps thrown out the back door, was the animal hungry and so desperate that it killed the baby trying to get food out of its mouth? Or was this a young, unaltered aggressive male dog merely expressing total dominance over his environment?

Will those who claim to love the breed demand an investigation of the treatment of the dog and work to tighten the requirements to assure more responsible Pit Bull ownership, or will they merely comb the news sites from the anonymity of their computers and automatically proclaim in rote that the attack had to be the owner’s fault, not the dog?



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