On September 22, 2008, a 3-day-old girl in Warren, Ohio, was killed in her home by her parents’ Husky. The girl was laying in her bassinet. Names have not been released. (Click here to read the story.)
In the United States, this is the third baby girl to be killed by a family dog in one month. (See the summary under “News” on the home page of Dog Bite Law by clicking on the Link, above.)
In this situation, the blame must fall squarely on the parents and not on the dog. Even the most gentle dogs can react unpredictably in new situations. I am willing to bet that this dog had never been around an infant.
What will it take for parents to realize the danger that the family dog poses to babies and small children in general? Dogs do not mix well with infants. Dogs should not be put in that situation. The penalty is death: for the dog even if it just nips, and possibly for the child too.
I will guarantee you, however, that the parents will not be prosecuted for their gross negligence. I see the same pattern again and again. The police start by making excuses, as in this case, where the police spokesman reportedly said the husky mistook the child for a stuffed animal. (See the article, link above.) The prosecutors do not file charges. And juries will not convict, even in the Nicholas Faibish case. This was the mother who told her son to remain in the basement, and gave her pit bull the run of the rest of the house, ending with the dog killing the boy a couple of hours later. (See “Defending against criminal charges: case study of People v. Maureen Faibish” at Dog Bite Law.)
The death of Diane Whipple was in the news this week. The owner of her killer was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. This was justice (even if at the expense of law, as suggested in my prior post). Justice for an adult. When children are killed, there is no justice. Our hearts break for the parents, but in the process we forget that one of the goals of the criminal justice system is to make people do the right thing. Protecting your children from your dog is the right thing. If you fail to do your duty, you fail your children, and you fail your community.
The criminal justice system must stop favoring the well-being of parents over the lives of their children when it comes to dog attacks.