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Dog that fatally bit toddler euthanized

By Staff | Dec 23, 2009

A dog that fatality bit a toddler in their Cape Coral home was euthanized Wednesday after the family gave up custody of the animal to authorities.
Liam Perk, 2, was severely bitten in the neck area by his family’s 8-year-old male Weimaraner at about 7:41 a.m. Tuesday at 235 S.E. 45th Terrace, officials reported. EMS transported the boy to Cape Coral Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 8:29 a.m.
Lee County Animal Services removed the dog, named Loyd, from the home Tuesday along with a female Weimaraner, named Chesey. According to Adam Leath of Lee County Animal Services, the family surrendered custody of Loyd on Wednesday and the dog was put down just after 3:30 p.m.
Chesey was returned to the family, he said.
“I can only imagine what they are going through,” Leath said. “I imagine they are dealing with this in the best way that they can.”
Officials were uncertain Tuesday about what occurred before the dog attacked, but it appeared there was no direct provocation from the boy.
“We don’t know anything for sure, but it appears the child walked by the dog and for whatever reason the dog was startled,” Connie Barron, spokeswoman for the Cape Coral Police Department, said. “Something apparently, obviously, startled the dog when the child walked by and the dog immediately snapped at the child and bit him in the neck area.”
The State Medical Examiner’s Office has taken over jurisdiction of the case and will determine the boy’s exact cause of death. No criminal charges will be filed in the case, Barron said.
According to Leath, Lee County Animal Services euthanized the dog because of the circumstances of the case and the responsibility tied to adopting the animal out to new owners.
“This dog was not one that we could place back into a home,” he said.
The department also is in the process of declaring the dog a dangerous animal, which carries specific stipulations outlined by Florida statues.
Leath said a Weimaraner is “a sporting breed of dog that works in agility.” An employee of Lee County Animal Services for more than three years, Leath said this is the first fatal attack that he is aware of.
“The is the first fatality that I can recall,” Leath said.
Lee County Animal Services generally responds to between two and six animal bites per day throughout the county. Some of the animals involved are owned by people and some are strays, he said, and the county works with the Department of Health to quarantine those animals.
“We encourage everyone to exercise due caution and make sure animals are well supervised,” Leath said. “I’m not sure if this played into this event or not, but our recommendation is to make sure all animals are supervised.”
Neighbors of the boy’s family voiced shock at the news Tuesday afternoon. The family declined to comment.
“Never saw this coming. Never would’ve predicted this,” said Mike Carney of 230 S.E. 45th Terrace. “They’re a nice family. It’s a shame.”
Carney said Liam’s parents, Joseph and Carrie, have a daughter who is a few months’ old.
“He was a cute little boy,” he said. “It’s got me shook up, and I’m not even related.”
Bruce Sayers of 247 S.E. 45th Terrace said his wife, Jan, previously fed and walked the dogs for the family when they were out of town. He said Loyd and Chesey are playful but good animals.
“She would sit down with them and they would wrestle with her,” Sayers said. “She said it’s just like a bad dream.”
Carney agreed, noting that Loyd weighed about 100 pounds.
“The other was a little smaller,” he said. “They were nice dogs. I could mess around with them.”
Sayers said he and his wife are shocked by the tragedy.
“And Liam, with his bright eyes, always sparkling and shining,” he said.
According to Gendron Funeral & Cremation Services, which is handling the funeral arrangements for the boy’s family, no services had been publicly announced Wednesday.