Dog Bite Kills Child

Dog Bite Kills Child

A two-and-a-half-year-old boy suffered fatal dog bite injuries thought to be caused by one is his family’s own dogs.  Jonathan Martin, a young boy from Virginia, was inside his own home the morning he was fatally attacked.  According to police his parents were upstairs at the time of the accident.  He suffered severe dog bites all over his face and body.  His parents called for assistance and the boy was rushed by helicopter to the Sentara Norfolk General Hospital where he died. 

Initially, police believed that the family’s male 35-pound Pit bull mix was responsible for the fatal dog attack, though further investigation has made it unclear who the canine culprit was.  The family had two adult Pit Bull mixes - one male, one female- and the female recently gave birth to a liter of four puppies.  The family reports that the dogs are frequently chained in the backyard, but were allowed to come in that morning because of the puppies.

According to police officials, the family had the male dog, Ox, for a year and a half before this fatal dog bite accident.  After the accident the police confiscated all of the dogs (including the puppies) who are now held by animal control.  No plans had been made to immediately euthanize the male dog. 

Jonathan’s father says the boy played with the dogs- who he kept outside on chains-frequently and never had a problem.  Family neighbors often observed the boy playing with the dogs.  One neighbor reports he has been suspicious of Ox for some time, and even warned his great-niece about the aggressive nature of the male dog.  “That dog tried to attack me, and he came after my wife,” the neighbor said, “I told them just last week that they ought to get rid of him.”

According to most animal control laws in the United States, it is unlawful to keep a viscous dog with a known history of biting or aggressive behavior.  Animal advocates also say chaining a dog outside for long periods without proper socialization, is a set up for disaster.  When puppies are in an environment, caution should also be taken to avoid triggering a dog’s defensive aggression. 

The Martin family plans to move as a result of this tragedy and says they will never own a dog again.  The local housing agency has stated that the home is not safe to live in anyway.  The septic system is broken and there are other substandard conditions within the home.  Police say the will be considering these living conditions when deciding whether or not to press charges in this fatal dog bite case. 

The Center for Disease Control estimates that 4.7 million people are injured by dog bites in the United States annually.  Just over twelve deaths are reported from dog bite injuries each year.  The CDC does not keep track of the breeds of dogs that bite.  Children aged five to nine have the highest risk of being attacked by a dog than any other age group.  Most laws hold owners responsible for the damage caused by their dog. 

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