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Owner faces negligence charge in dog's attack on child, 3

When stories about dog attacks hit the news, they almost always seem to involve pit bulls. The truth of the matter is that any dog can be vicious and the size of the animal doesn't much matter. Of course, the bigger the animal, the more serious the injury it is likely to cause the victim, especially if the target of the dog attack is a child.

This comes to mind in the wake of a news story about a dog attack that left a 3-year-old boy seriously injured. Not only did the attack send the child to the hospital for dozens of stitches, but earlier this month, prosecutors took the unusual move of charging the owner with felony negligence in the case.

According to the report, the attack happened just after Christmas in Murrieta. The 62-year-old man and his dog, an Akita, were at a Lowe's store in the garden center and so was another man with his toddler child. Police said the boy was petting the dog when it attacked, leaving the boy with wounds to his jaw, neck and forehead.

Officials say that after the attack, the dog owner merely apologized and left the store. He was later identified through the use of store surveillance video.

In the course of investigating the attack, authorities discovered that the dog had been aggressive toward small children twice before, in October and November. Fortunately those instances didn't result in the victims needing to be hospitalized.

Prosecutors say that it was the preponderance of information regarding the dog's interaction with children that contributed to the decision to file criminal charges. The dog's owner is scheduled to be arraigned later this week.

The filing of criminal charges may offer the family of the young victim of this attack some consolation. They should also know that under California law they may be able to seek compensation from the owner for the physical and possible psychological trauma that the boy suffered. An attorney would be able to offer an assessment in that regard.

Source: The Press-Enterprise, "MURRIETA: Akita owner charged with felony in Lowe’s dog-bite case," Sarah Burge, Feb. 10, 2014

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