SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. — A family dog fatally attacked its owners’ 2½ month-old son after jumping on the couch and biting the infant as the baby was being held by his uncle, authorities in southeastern Michigan said.
The attack happened late Sunday morning at a home in Springfield Township, about 30 miles northwest of Detroit.
The child’s 18-year-old uncle was holding the baby on the couch when the dog, a Catahoula hound, tried to jump onto the couch. The uncle pushed the dog off, but it jumped back on and attacked the boy’s head and throat, sheriff Michael Bouchard told WDIV-TV.
There was no negligence by the adults involved, who had no reason to think the dog would attack the baby unprovoked, Bouchard said.
“It just turned and grabbed the baby,” the sheriff said. “Who knows how much of this is instinctual, who knows how much territorial?”
The infant’s 26-year-old father was injured while prying open the dog’s jaws, Bouchard said.
“He did everything he could to get the dog off of the baby, so much so that he’s going to need stitches in his arms,” Bouchard said.
The boy was taken to Genesys Regional Medical Center before being airlifted to William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, where he died, authorities said.
“This is a tragic incident, and it is a sad reminder to keep animals away from small children and babies no matter what the circumstances may be,” the sheriff told the station. “Animal behavior, whether intended as playful or territorial, can have devastating impact on small children.”
The Associated Press left a phone message seeking comment from the sheriff’s office Monday.
Authorities said they planned to euthanize the dog, a 31⁄2-year-old female Catahoula hound that the family had owned for about two years. The dogs can reach weights between 40 and 90 pounds. The breed, named for Louisiana’s Catahoula Parish, traditionally has been used in boar hunting.