A vicious dog that mauled a five-week-old baby to death while his parents slept should never have been near the infant it ‘viewed as prey’, canine experts say.
The six-year-old American Staffordshire terrier killed the little boy in his home in Kariong, on the NSW Central Coast, in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Paramedics arrived at the scene about 2.18am, but the infant could not be revived. The family pet was euthanised days later.
Dog experts warned such powerful dogs should never be within three metres of a child under 14.
However, they insisted specific dog breeds, like staffies, were not inherently dangerous, instead saying individual dogs were ‘unstable’ and should be put down.
This is despite some types of dogs being bred to hunt and kill, and being overrepresented in fatal attacks – prompting calls to ban them.
Pictured: A distraught man outside a home where a newborn baby boy was mauled to death by a staffy
Pictured: First responders at a home on the Central Coast after the five-week-old boy was killed. Canine experts warned dogs should never be left with small children
Four weeks before the infant was mauled, the same dog dragged a spaniel named Arrow under the backyard fence and viciously killed him.
The local council told the owners to take their pet for a temperament assessment. But a month later, the little boy was dead.
Dog behavioural expert Nathan McCredie explained that to a dog, such a small child was not thought of as a human, but instead a catch.
‘That dog would have had no idea the boy was a human – babies are a different size, they smell different, they scream and squeal,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘To the staffy, it looks like prey.’
Mr McCredie, who runs canine training service Dog Gone Mad, said any such animal – especially one with a violent history – should never have been allowed in the same room as the baby.
‘I wouldn’t have it around my kids. Letting it loose around kids while unsupervised – that scares the hell out of me,’ the father-of-two said.
Pictured: A dog after he was attacked by a staffy on the street. Half his ear was sliced off
Pictured: The sad-looking dog after a staffy came along and attacked him – slicing off half his ear
‘I don’t have dogs within a three metre radius of kids under the age of 14, and if I do, it’s because I invited the dog in and I can control it.’
Mr McCredie said 80 to 90 per cent of dog bites are the animal’s way of saying they are in pain, and children under the age of 14 often don’t know when they are inflicting pain or discomfort on an animal.
If the dog decides to strike, kids are smaller and significantly less powerful than a large and muscly dog, like an American Staffordshire terrier, and can’t escape the its jaws.
Residents in the region of the Jeff’s Close, Kariong, home where the baby died claim American staffies are responsible for a spate of viscous attacks.
Central Coast local Elly told Daily Mail Australia her friend was walking her 12-year-old dog Buddy, when two roaming staffies appeared.
‘My friend tried to protect him but he was dragged out of her arms and ripped to pieces in front of her,’ she said.
‘She was badly injured, hospitalised and now has scars for life – scars visible on her arms which remind her every day of the hideous event, and she is now mentally scarred forever from witnessing a horror she can never un-see.’
In another horrific attack, a dog of the same breed attacked a man’s pet and sliced his ear off.
Pictured: Dog behavioural expert Nathan McCredie, who is the owner of canine training service Dog Gone Mad. He warned against leaving dogs in the company of children
When asked why some dogs would behave that way, Mr McCredie said some dogs were just aggressive and couldn’t be helped.
‘I see it with all breeds. Some dogs are just unstable and should be put to sleep. I have no doubt that staffy was unstable,’ he said.
Another dog expert, Nathan Williams from training company Dog Behavioural Specialist, told Daily Mail Australia that humans often teach canines to kill by playing games like tug-of-war with them.
‘Dogs aren’t meant to have toys – they’ve only been around for 40 to 50 years and we now have more problems than we’ve ever had before,’ he said.
‘When dogs use their mouths on something non protein-based, they learn that it’s OK to do that with other objects. Tug-of-war is violent and riles the dog up, so we’re teaching them that’s okay.’
He also said dogs had very sensitive hearing, so when they play with squeaky toys, they get agitated by the sound and use their mouth to stop it squeaking.
That logic could transfer to a cat or a baby, with tragic consequences.
The death renewed calls to ban staffys from Australia. Dog expert says some pets need more training (stock image of a staffy)
Like Mr McCredie, Mr Williams said the killer dog was probably triggered because the baby was crying – but would not have known it was hurting a human.
When asked what dog breeds are the most dangerous to children, both experts said all breeds can potentially be dangerous – but staffies were getting a lot of attention because they were such a popular dog.
‘German Shepherds used to be really popular and they had bad reputation for biting kids, Dobermans were popular in the ’70s and there were lots of reports of those attacking babies and other dogs – now its staffies,’ Mr Williams said.
Mr McCrindle said tragedies like the one on the Central Coast usually happen because the owners were uneducated about how to care for their pet.
‘There is no such thing as an unpredictable dog – it’s a lack of education, and people don’t know what’s safe and what’s not,’ he said.
He suggested about three months of mandatory training for all dogs and their owners to ensure fatalities like the one this weekend didn’t happen again.
Pictured: Nathan Williams, who is the owner of training company Dog Behavioural Specialist
The horrific incident has social media users divided – some say staffies were ‘wonderful family pets’ and attacks were always the owner’s fault, but others thought they should be banned.
‘Ban irresponsible dog owners. It’s not the breed it’s the way the dog is treated. And never leave a child unsupervised with any animal,’ one Facebook user wrote.
‘It is NOT the breed! It is bad owners!! You should never leave a child alone with an animal! No matter big or small!’ another added.
A third wrote: ‘Seriously, when are humans going to take responsibility for how their dog behaves. It is not the breed.
‘Any dog can and will bite, unfortunately a larger breed will have a harder and more damaging bite.’
Another user said she owned a ‘sweet’ staffy, but would never leave him alone with kids.
‘I have a staffy and he’s really sweet but I would never leave children alone with him, they are prey driven dogs and kids especially babies sound like prey to them, give these dogs to the right owners not people with children. It’s so very sad,’ she said.