Dog Bite | Animal Behavior Expert Witness For Attorneys

Richard H. Polsky, Ph.D. CDBC
Los Angeles, California

“Bringing the science of animal behavior to attorneys”

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California mother vindicated in dog bite genital mutilation of son

A judge in Riverside County, CA. dismissed charges against a 23-year-old mother whose 7 month-old son’s genitals were mutilated by the family’s pit bull mix dog. the mother was charged with felony child endangerment in connection with the April 3, 2010 incident that happened in Murrieta, CA. The incident happened when the mother left the baby unattended for approximately 10 min. strapped into a baby carrier in the presence of the dog. The mother states that she heard a loud scream and returned to the infant to find her sons torn up diaper in the dog’s mouth and the baby bleeding from the groin area. The mother testified that the dog had tried to snatch dirty diapers out of the trash and off the floor previously but had consistently been friendly to the infant and her other children, and this included the times when the mother had previously left the child alone in the presence of the dog.

Prosecution, in this case, argued that the mother should have known it was dangerous to leave a defenseless 7-month-old infant around an aggressively, playful dog. The defense argued that the dog was a family dog and not an attack dog and that it was not unreasonable for her to trust the dog and that many parents would have done the same.

The judge characterized the attack on the child as a “terrible accident”, and vindicated the defendant. Court records stated that the infant will require hormone therapy for the rest of his life.

Related case: Mutilation of an infant in Houston in March 2007

In this case, which happened in Houston in 2007, a 5-week-old infant sustained severe genital mutilation. The case was brought before a jury in August 2009. The defendant, in this case, a former high school cheerleader, claims she was sleeping at the time of the incident. Her defense team argued that the family dog, a 7-month-old, 12 lb. miniature dachshund by the name of Shorty, inflicted the injuries. The prosecution argued that the defendant, a former high school cheerleader, was high on drugs at the time of the incident. The infant was mutilated so severely that paramedics who initially responded did not know if there were dealing with a girl or boy. The severed parts were never recovered. At trial, a pediatric surgeon testified that the wounds in the genital area of the infant were extremely large and the edges around the wounds were straight, therefore making the cause of the injury inconsistent with a dog bite. The defendant was found guilty and sentenced to 99 years in prison.


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