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Friday, 31 May 2019 13:00

Child Suffers Serious Bite to Her Face

Akita Attacks Girl During Visit at Romoland Kennel

FRIDAY, MAY 31, 2019 – Riverside County Animal Services is investigating a serious dog bite that involved a 7- year-old girl on Sunday at a private kennel in Romoland. The investigation includes looking into a handful of other serious bites involved dogs from the kennel.

A 2-year-old, male Akita lunged at the girl and bit her on the right side of her face. She suffered puncture wounds and the injuries required three hours of surgery. Doctors used approximately 1,000 sutures in caring for her wounds. Theincident happened at about noon on Sunday (May 26) as the girl’s parents and the child were with staff members atthe kennel seeking to adopt the dog.

The kennel is the home base for a rescue organization specializing in saving Akitas from Southern California-based shelters, including Riverside County Animal Services. It is located in the 28000 block of Ellis Avenue. At least five other serious bites involving dogs at or from this kennel have occurred, dating to 2013 – and two as recently as 2018.

The dog involved in Sunday’s attack was from a Los Angeles-area shelter and had been in that shelter for about a month before it was rescued by the Romoland-based group in early February.

Animal Services Officer Carra Mathewson responded to the location on Sunday and retrieved the dog for a quarantine period. Officer Mathewson asked the owner of the rescue if she would like to surrender the dog for euthanasia. The owner declined and said that the dog is not aggressive, nor had it illustrated any aggressive behavior in the past.

Due to the severity of the attack, Officer Mathewson and her supervisor, Sgt. Lesley Huennekens, sought a destruction order at a public hearing on Thursday. The victim’s father provided testimony, via telephone, as did a representative of the rescue organization. That individual did not witness the attack, but she testified that the girl reportedly put her face to the dog’s face and the parents were advised against such actions.

The hearing officer, independent of Animal Services, did not render a decision on Thursday. He told Animal Services a decision would be made by today or, at the latest, on Monday.

“It is crucial that we protect the public from dogs that may not be suitable for adoptions,” Animal Services Director Allan Drusys said. “We respect all of our rescue partners very much. These groups are helping us save lives. But it’scritical that everyone recognize that some breeds may not be a good pet, especially for households with children.”

In November 2017 a man adopted a dog from the rescue but returned the dog after he was attacked and suffered bite wounds to both arms. A similar incident happened in February 2018 when a man adopted a dog, but was bit in his hands and arms. Both adopters returned the dogs. Animal Services issued dangerous dog restraining orders for both.

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