Rescue Dog in Baby’s Death Euthanized at Owner’s Decision: Dept. Animal Services
The newborn, Sebastian Caban, was with his parents and the family dog in a bed on April 21 when the mother suddenly coughed, according to an autopsy report.
The dog that killed a 3-day-old Mira Mesa boy has been euthanized at the owner’s request, County of San Diego Department of Animal Services said Wednesday.
“The owners of the dog “Polo” came to the Department of Animal Services this morning and relinquished the dog for euthanasia,” said Dan DeSousa, the deputy director of the department, in a statement. “The dog was euthanized at the owner’s request and this closes the Department’s role in this incident.”
Polo was with his owners and their newborn, Sebastian Caban, in a bed on April 21 when the baby’s mother suddenly coughed, according to an autopsy report.
The dog bit the baby in the head in what the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office has called an accident.
Polo was under quarantine and in the custody of the Department of Animal Services until the family made the decision.
On Tuesady, the San Diego Humane Society sent a letter to its volunteers confirming that Polo had been adopted by the owners six months ago.
The agency explained that there was no sign of trouble with the 2-year-old American Staffordshire Terrier.
“There was not a fragment of aggression seen in this dog before tragedy struck,” said Gary Weitzman, DVM, MPH, CAWA, President and CEO of the San Diego Humane Society.
“The first question we asked was whether we had seen any signs of aggression in this dog before adopting him out. That answer is no,” Weitzman said.
“His records tell of a happy, social dog who enjoyed going on walks and playing with other dogs,” he added.
He added that the agency sends its thoughts to the family of the baby.
“What happened was tragic and I can’t even begin to fathom the pain this family is suffering,” Weitzman said.
Shortly after the incident, the couple made two unsuccessful 911 calls, SDPD officials confirmed.
They ended up driving the newborn to Rady Children’s Hospital where medical staff pronounced him dead.
Couple whose baby was mauled by dog gave up on 911
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Police in San Diego say a couple whose 3-day-old baby was mauled to death by the family dog made two unsuccessful 911 calls before getting frustrated and driving the boy to the hospital themselves.
Police Lt. Scott Wahl tells KNSD-TV Saturday that the parents waited 28 seconds before hanging up their first call, then tried again and waited 34 seconds before giving up.
Police say the family has their condolences and they too are frustrated by slow 911 response times. They say their operators are understaffed and that 73 calls came in during the half-hour span when the parents called.
Police say the couple was in bed with the baby Thursday night when the dog was startled and attacked the baby. The child was declared dead at the hospital.
Police say a 3-day-old boy was fatally mauled by a pet dog as his parents watched helplessly in their San Diego home.
Sgt. Tu Nguyen said the parents were in bed watching TV with their newborn son and pit bull-mix Thursday night when the mother coughed, startling the dog.
Nguyen said the dog reacted by biting the baby, resulting in a traumatic injury. He said the parents pulled the animal off and took their only child to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
An autopsy is under way to determine the cause of death.
Nguyen, a sergeant in the child abuse unit, says the baby’s death appears to be “nothing more than a tragic accident.”
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports animal control officers took the 2-year-old dog into custody.
More than 200 warnings
Altogether, ANIMALS 24-7 staff and board members have published more than 200 articles issuing similar warnings in humane media since 1988.
Additional hundreds of similar warnings have been published by the pit bull victim advocacy organizations Daxton’s Friends and Dogsbite.org, more than 60 pit bull victim advocacy Facebook pages and groups, and by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Three basic rules
Actually there were many things the San Diego Humane Society & SPCA could have done to prevent the pit bull Polo from killing Sebastian Caban, beginning with observing three basic rules for ensuring adoption success and adopter safety which for decades were almost universally practiced:
- No adoptions of pit bulls and other dogs of dangerous breed to first-time adopters and other inexperienced petkeepers;
- No adoptions of pit bulls and other dogs of dangerous breed to families with small children or expecting the birth of a child;
- Discourage allowing dogs to claim beds and other places where people might sleep as their own territory.
Many of the shelter dogs who went on to kill people were cleared for adoption through use of the SAFER test, introduced by animal behaviorist Emily Weiss in 1999-2000, amid complaints by pit bull advocates that too many pit bulls were failing the older behavioral screening tests developed by Sue Sternberg of Rondout Kennels and others.
The American SPCA hired Weiss as senior director of shelter behavior programs in 2005, and on May 5, 2007 made promoting the SAFER test an ASPCA program. But the ASPCA appeared to step away from the SAFER test, if only to reduce potential liability for accidents, after a pit bull killed Joshua Phillip Strother, age 6, on July 7, 2015, days after the dog passed SAFER screening and was rehomed by the Asheville Humane Society, of Asheville, North Carolina.
2016 Dog Bite Fatality: Pit Bull Rehomed by Humane Society Kills Newborn Baby
Animal Expert Provides Insights
UPDATE 04/27/16: Sebastian Caban, 3-days old, was fatally bitten on the head by a family pit bull-mix while he laid in bed with his parents and the dog. What followed was a carefully executed breed manipulation plan by Deputy Director Dan DeSousa to confuse the media and public, along with an outpouring of media claiming the deadly attack came in response to the mother coughing. We reached out to Alexandra Semyonova, an animal behaviorist and author, for her observations.
Additionally, as we prepared this update, it was announced what we had suspected all along. The family pit bull-mix is a rescue. The San Diego Humane Society — a private organization that has a partnership with county animal services — adopted the dog to the baby’s parents 5-months ago. The reason why we suspected this pit bull-mix had been rehomed is because it was neutered. This is a rarity amongst pit bull owners unless the animal was rehomed by a reputable shelter.
It’s quite sad that yet another killing of yet another child by a pit bull type is being diverted to a discussion of exactly which category of pit bull type dog is involved, and to a discussion of 911 dispatch response time.
The real problem here is not the 911 dispatch response time. It is not exactly which of the various pit bull type dogs killed this infant. It is not about figuring exactly what triggered the pit bull mix to execute its inherent motor pattern. Neither is this latest infant death about children and ‘any dog’, which will be the next damage control response pit bull advocacy predictably comes up with. The tragedy of this child’s death is about exposing a newborn baby to the type of dog that has been responsible for more child killings than all other breeds and types of dogs combined since the 1980s. A type of dog whose genetically determined, inherent response to startle (no matter what kind), in fact to any strong stimulus, is to attack the head and neck, grip, hold, shake, and not let go.
Yes, many types of dogs have bitten children, but we are not talking about a bite here. We’re talking about an instant killing, not preceded by any warning signals, not triggered by anything that would offend any normal dog, and so vicious that the parents of the child had trouble getting the pit bull mix off their baby.
As an expert on the domestic dog, I’m appalled at Deputy Director Dan DeSousa’s immediate response. He is apparently as aware of the statistics as I am, and is above all concerned about keeping yet another pit bull type out of those statistics.1 He is willing to slander any and all other types of dogs in order to do this. If he really cared about dogs — or even about pit bulls — he would react differently. We don’t help dogs by playing name-games that will lead to ever more children being killed by a particular type, then saying any dog would do it. We don’t help pit bull types by denying the danger they present, thus cooperating in setting them up again and again to fail in family homes. This aside from the loss of human life that results from this game, since DeSousa apparently doesn’t care much about that either.
I am also appalled at the focus on the 911 dispatch response time. These parents took a loaded Kalashnikov to bed with them because it’s the Internet fashion of the moment. The Kalashnikov shot their baby in the head when the mother coughed with her finger on the trigger. Just as with a machine gun shot to the head, a neonate is lost the instant any pit bull type dog has gripped its head, even if police were in the room at the moment the trigger went off. It’s misplaced — and an attempt to avoid responsibility for their own terrible choice — for these parents (and everyone else) to be trying to blame the overworked and understaffed 911 dispatch response center.
The normal domestic dog is a conflict avoider. At startle or threat, it will try first of all to increase distance and assess the situation. It will seek to compose an appropriate response, preferring a response that does not involve violence. If startled by a child (or anything else) in a position where it can’t instantly increase distance, a normal dog might lash out with an open-jawed bat to an approaching body part. A normal dog might do a pressureless grab at that body part. A puncture wound, some torn skin, a bruising could result — but not a death. The normal dog will flee the situation as soon as a flight route opens up. It will not respond to startle by jumping up and gripping the head of anything that happens to be close by, applying full jaw pressure, and refusing to let go.
This response is unique to the pit bull types, including the various pit bull mixes. A normal dog would have jumped off the bed and, if jealous, slunk off to pout. Jealous normal dogs don’t go into a sudden, gripping death-hold attack. Yet again we see that the pit bull types are not like other dogs. ‘Any dog’ education will not help these pit bull killings of children to stop, and we need to quit pretending it will. People like DeSousa, who are charged not only with animal welfare but also with public safety, need to stop the games they’re playing.
As for the ‘any dog’ thing, it’s true that any dog that inflicts serious wounds in a startle situation shows it isn’t safe to keep among us. Where a dog — any dog — shows lack of preference for conflict avoidance, lack of acquired bite inhibition or willingness to abandon bite inhibition in ANY conflict, and lack of willingness to quit until the other is dead, it is my opinion that it is neither safe for us nor good for dogs in general to keep that dog alive. And so here is the final appalling part of this story: the law should not be such that a man like DeSousa has any choice but to humanely euthanize any dog that has killed, even if that dog was one of the pit bull types he seems above all enamored with. – Alexandra Semyonova, animal behaviorist and author
Semyonova has graciously allowed us to post an excerpt from her book, The 100 Silliest Things People Say About Dogs, pertaining to the myth of whether a dog can or can’t be jealous — Myth 44. Purchase your copy of the book today. Also visit Semyonova’s website: Nonlinear Dogs.
From the book, “Misunderstood Nanny Dogs” by J Thomas Beasley – Page 40 & 41:
John Paul Scott and John L. Fuller carried out a series of selective breeding experiments at the Jackson Laboratories in Bar Harbor, Maine. By happy chance, their results revealed a simple rule that seems to work. Their general conclusion was that a mixed breed dog is most likely to act like the breed that it most looks like.
Thus, the conclusion to be reached is that if it looks like a pit bull, it probably is a pit bull. Which is why most breed-specific legislation is aimed at the “pit bull class” of dogs that includes its close mixes. Pit bull mixes that look a lot like pit bulls have most of the same personality and genetic traits of pure bred pit bulls, and should be regulated the same way.
American Pit Bull Terrier
The ‘bull and terrier’ type was originally developed in England in the early 19th century. The lineage goes back to the mastiff / molosser types, including what we now call the Olde English Bulldogge, that were used for bear-, bull- and horse-baiting from the 12ththrough the 18th century. This isn’t the bear-baiting we think of today, when hunters feed bears in order to bring them out in the open to shoot them. Rather, the bear, bull or horse was confined in a public arena where the mastiff ‘bulldogs’ would slowly tear them apart alive for the public’s amusement1,2,3,4,5.
The popularity of this ‘sport’ declined as education became more emphasized in urban society of the Industrial Revolution and literacy among the population grew (from about 30% in the 17th century to 62% by 1800)6. The ‘sport’ was banned altogether by Act of Parliament in 1835.
The lovers of blood ‘sports’ turned to dogfighting to satisfy their fancy, breeding the large, mastiff-type bulldogs to smaller working terriers to get dogs both smaller and more agile, easier to keep and to hide, but just as willing to attack and fight to the death. With the rise of the kennel clubs and the desire to distinguish dogs by looks and pedigree as well as by performance, this ‘bull and terrier’ type eventually divided into many official breeds. They all share the same ancestry and function, distinguishing themselves mostly by slight differences in appearance.
Tyler Trammell-Huston (9) – Linda, CA – Killed By Sister’s 3 Pit Bulls After She Left Him Alone With The Dogs (1/3/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/01/tyler-trammell-huston-fatal-pit-bull-attack-linda-ca/
Payton Sawyers (1) – Independence, VA – Killed By Pit Bull-Mix While Under Care Of Babysitters (1/8/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/01/payton-sawyers-independence-virginia-fatal-pit-bull-attack/
Talen Nathan West (7) – Lumberton, NC – Killed By Neighbor’s Pit Bull While Playing In The Woods With His Brother (1/24/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/01/talen-nathan-west-lumberton-north-carolina-fatal-pit-bull-attack/
Aiden Grim-Morelli (3 days) – Youngstown, OH – Killed By Family “Mix-breed Shepherd” When Left In A Laundry Basket (2/8/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/02/aiden-grim-morelli-youngstown-ohio-shepherd-death/
Suzanne Story (36) – Hertford, NC – Killed By A Pit Bull-Mix She Adopted 2 Weeks Earlier (2/10/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/02/suzanne-story-hertford-north-carolina-fatal-pit-bull-attack/
Gladys Alexander (92) – Olympia, WA – Killed By Her Neighbor’s 4 Pit Bull-Mixes While Delivering Newspaper (3/8/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/03/gladys-alexander-olympia-wa-pit-bull-mix-fatal-dog-attack/
Bessie Flowers (86) – Charlotte, NC – Killed By Her Daughter’s 2 Pit Bulls While Visiting (3/28/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/03/bessie-flowers-charlotte-north-carolina-fatal-pit-bull-attack/
Sonda Dyan Tyson (66) – Leesburg, FL – Killed By Her Own Pit Bull-Bullmastiff mix (3/31/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/03/sonda-dyan-tyson-fatal-pit-bull-attack/
Valente Lopez Aguirre (58) – Fresno County, CA – Killed By Pack Of Dogs (4/14/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/04/valente-lopez-aguirre-fresno-county-ca-robert-simonian/
Sebastian Caban (3 days) – San Diego, CA – Killed By The Family Pit Bull-Mix While Lying In Bed With His Parents (4/21/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/04/sebastian-caban-san-diego-ca-fatal-pit-bull-attack-mira-mesa/
Manuel Mejia (49) – Homestead, FL – Killed By 1 Pit Bull Type & 9 Belgium Malinois-Bulldog Mixes While Farming (4/24/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/04/manuel-mejia-homestead-florida-fatal-dog-attack-2016/
Adonis Reddick (45) – St. Louis County, MO – Killed By His Own Pit Bull (5/9/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/05/adonis-reddick-st-louis-fatal-pit-bull-attack/
Antoinette Brown (52) – Dallas, TX – Killed By A Pack Of 4 Pit Bull-Mixes, Rottweiler, Shepherd & Doberman-Mixes (5/9/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/05/antoinette-brown-dallas-texas-fatal-dog-attack/
Earl Stephens Jr. (43) – Stockton, CA – Killed By 3 Pit Bulls While Visiting A Friend – (6/4/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/06/earl-stephens-jr-stockton-ca-fatal-pit-bull-attack/
Hunter Bragg (7) – Corinna, ME – Killed By A Pit Bull While Playing In Father’s Yard (6/4/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/06/hunter-bragg-corinna-maine-fatal-pit-bull-attack/
Erin McCleskey (36) – Manor, TX – Killed By Pack Of Dogs While Serving Papers (6/15/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/06/erin-mccleskey-36-manor-texas-dog-bite-related-fatality/
Jocelyn Winfrey (53) – New Haven, CT – Killed By 2 Pit Bull Type Dogs While Visiting Friend (6/27/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/06/jocelyn-winfrey-hamilton-hicks-new-haven-ct-fatal-pit-bull-attack/
Susie Kirby (3-days) – Fresno, CA – Killed By The Family’s 2 Pit Bull/Shar Pei Mixes (6/27/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/06/susie-kirby-fresno-california-fatal-pit-bull-shar-pei-dog-attack/
Kayden Begay (3) – Navajo Nation Reservation, AZ – Killed By The Neighbor’s 5 Pit Bulls (7/14/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/07/kayden-begay-navajo-nation-reservation-az-fatal-pit-bull-attack/
Elizabeth Rivera (71) – Detroit, MI – Killed By Her Daughter’s 4 Pit Bulls (7/16/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/07/elizabeth-rivera-detroit-michigan-fatal-pit-bull-attack/
Crisencio Aliado (52) – Honolulu, HI – Killed By 2 Loose Pit Bull-Mixes (7/29/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/07/crisencio-aliado-honolulu-hawaii-fatal-pit-bull-attack/
Michelle Wilcox (30) – Screven County, Georgia – Killed By Her Boyfriend’s Pit Bull While Visiting (8/1/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/08/michelle-wilcox-screven-county-georgia-fatal-pit-bull-attack/
Derion Stevenson (9) – Las Vegas, NV – Killed By Pit Bull-Mix While Visiting Friend (8/17/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/08/derion-stevenson-las-vegas-nevada-fatal-pit-bull-attack/
Michael Downing (83) – Jacksonville, FL – Killed By Rottweiler & 3 Mixed-Breeds While Taking Out Trash (8/19/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/08/michael-downing-jacksonville-florida-fatal-dog-attack/
Susan Shawl (60) – Conifer, CO – Killed By Her Son’s 2 Family Pit Bulls (8/29/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/08/richard-susan-shawl-conifer-colorado-fatal-pit-bull-attack/
Baby Jane Doe (6-days) – College Station, TX – Killed By Breed Unknown (9/1/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/09/baby-jane-doe-college-station-texas-fatal-dog-attack/
Piper Dunbar (2) – Topeka, KS – Killed By Family Friend’s 2 Pit Bulls (9/24/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/09/piper-dunbar-topeka-kansas-fatal-pit-bull-attack/
Kiyana McNeal (4) – Sherman Township, MI – Killed By A Doberman-Mix Within An Hour Of Adopting (10/23/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/10/kiyana-mcneal-sherman-township-dog-doberman-fatal-attack/
Daisie Bradshaw (68) – New York City, NY – Killed By Her Daughter’s 2 Pit Bull-Mixes (10/25/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/10/daisie-bradshaw-68-staten-island-fatal-pit-bull-attack/
Isaiah Jacob Franklin (6) – Huntington, WV – Killed By The Family Pit Bull (12/2/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/12/isaiah-jacob-franklin-huntington-west-virginia-fatal-pit-bull-attack/
David Fear (64) – Grover Beach, CA – Killed By Neighbor’s Police K9 (12/16/16) https://www.daxtonsfriends.com/2016/12/david-fear-grover-beach-california-fatal-dog-attack/