Dog Bite | Animal Behavior Expert Witness For Attorneys

Richard H. Polsky, PhD, CDBC
Los Angeles, California

“Bringing the science of animal behavior to attorneys”


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Newborn infant mauled to death in bizarre dog bite incident

Dog bites inflicted onto humans occasionally result in severe injury  and at timeseven death, and in many incidents the situations and reasons why dogs attack humans show common features; for example, territorial defense, provocation, a dog suddenly becoming frightened, owner negligence, etc.  A rather different and bizarre incident involving fatal dog attack on a newborn infant happened in Australia in 2004,however.

The incident happened when a 14-year-old girl gave birth in the backyard of her home. The girl had fallen pregnant as a result of a six-month relationship with a 15-year-old classmate the previous year, but claims that she was not aware of her pregnancy.  As she was giving birth in the backyard, the family pet, a dog named Rex, started grabbing newborn’s body from between her legs as she laid on the ground with severe stomach pain. Previous to this, her father who was often absent from the household due to his job as a truck driver, refused to take her to the hospital, and told her to go to sleep after finding her rocking on the floor in pain. After giving birth, the girl states that she picked up an unidentified “wet item”, and deposited it in an unused refrigerator in the house. Subsequently, police found the placenta hidden in the girl’s bedroom.

The Corner’s report showed that the girl sustained dog bites on her arm, and concluded that her injuries probably happened as result of her trying to protect the newborn.   A postmortem exam of the newborn showed 25 wounds consistent with dog bites. The breed of the dog was not identified, but the likely motivation underlying the dog’s interest in the newborn was one most likely based on feeding and not aggression. Similar reasons for bite inflicted injuries onto human infants are rare but have occurred because of a dog’s interest in feeding (for example, because of fecal matter left in a diaper) rather than aggressive intent. black dog