Harry Harper was just eight-days-old when he was killed by his grandparents’ dog at their home on Tuesday. Harry’s mother, 19-year-old model Mikayla Bell was staying at her parents’ home, when one of the family’s five dogs attacked her infant son at about 8:00 a.m. on November 20.
Despite frantic efforts by paramedics, the newborn died from his injuries a few hours later at the Princess Royal Hospital, Telford, Shropshire (UK).
The results of the autopsy on the tiny baby’s body were released on November 23 and confirmed that he died from “significant head injury” suffered during an attack by an eight-year-old Jack Russell-mix dog, called PJ (first reported as “Duke”,) who had escaped from the kitchen and attacked the baby in the living room, according to the Mirror.com.uk.
Although both grandparent’s, Gordon, 42, and Teresa Bell, 40, were reportedly at home, along with Mikayla, it is unclear whether anyone was actually with baby Harry at the time of the deadly attack.
Dr. Roger Mugford, an animal behaviorist, said, ‘Most dog attacks on children occur on toddlers because they interact with the dog. In this case an eight-day-old baby was obviously passive and, even if he was crying, should not have posed a threat to the dog.”
He added, "We don’t know the circumstances of this tragedy, but if the parents were present there is a chance the dog lunged and moved so fast they could do nothing about it. No dog of any breed should be left around children unsupervised."
Neighbors report that the frantic young mother ran from her parents’ house screaming, 'My baby, my baby' and begging the paramedics to save him.
According to the medical examiner’s report, Harry Harper suffered a crushed skull after being bitten just once by the male Jack Russell-cross dog. The animal has since been destroyed, authorities report.
Photos posted by Mikayla on Twitter of a “Jack Russell-type” dog show a mixed-breed brown dog that does not notably resemble the traditional breed standards of a Jack Russell Terrier and appears larger than would be expected. The Daily Mail states, “... it is not clear whether this is the dog that attacked her baby.”
In a brief statement released through police, the Bell family said: “As a family we are absolutely devastated by Harry's death and have no words to describe the loss we have suffered.” They asked to be allowed to grieve in private in order to “begin to deal with our loss.” Friends quietly laid flowers outside the Bell home.
Harry weighed only 7 lbs. when he was born on November 12. Miss Bell told friends she was thrilled at becoming a parent with boyfriend Tom Harper, a trainee electrician, and proudly posted pictures of her son on the internet.
Tom Harper, also 19, is reported to be grieving with his parents Andrea, 48, and Neville, 51, at their family home in nearby Shifnal, Shropshire, according to reports. Tom's mother, who is a nursery nurse, said: "We have nothing to say at this time – we are still numb.”
Last month Mikayla Bell told friends that a “family dog” attacked one of her favorite soft toys. It has not been determined if that was the same dog that killed the newborn.
Today, friends and family also took to social networking sites to express their “heartbreak at the unthinkable loss," just hours after many had posted congratulatory messages at the birth, reported the Mirror.co.uk.
West Mercia Police are trying to determine what caused the dog to attack little Harry. The dog was said to be friendly but reportedly could occasionally “turn vicious” on neighbors.
No arrests have been made and police sources stated it was unlikely that “criminal proceedings” would come as a result of the incident. Detectives are said to be treating the incident as a “tragic accident” and are unlikely to charge the grandparents.