Dog bites off 4-year-old boy’s hand, and the hand is missing, Utah officials say

Screengrab from KSTU video

A 4-year-old boy reaching through a chain-link fence in his backyard to play with his neighbor’s two dogs lost a hand Sunday when one of the dogs bit it off above the wrist, The Deseret News reported.

The child had put a sock over his hand to play with the dogs, described as Huskies, in the 3:30 p.m. incident in Layton, Utah, The Gephardt Daily reported. Despite hours of searching, police could not find the boy’s severed hand.

“There is fear that it was probably ingested by the dog that bit him,” said Jason Cook, a battalion chief with the Layton Fire Department, KSTU reported. “So at this point it does not appear that reattachment is going to be an option for us.”

The boy’s parents, although “very, very upset” and “traumatized” by the incident, bandaged their son’s hand and provided first aid, according to the station.

A helicopter airlifted the 4-year-old to a nearby hospital, where he’s recovering after surgery, The Gephardt Daily reported. Animal control officers took both dogs into custody.

“We’ve talked to the kids about still being cautious around other animals,” said neighbor Stacy Taft, KSTU reported. “Not all animals are always nice or they may feel threatened at some kind of action they might do.”

The owners say their dogs had not bitten anyone in the past, and animal control officers reported no previous incidents involving the dogs, The Gephardt Daily reported.

“I think this is one of those innocent child play moments where the dogs have probably been in the backyard many, many times,” Cook said, The Deseret News reported.

“He’s seen them and maybe even done something similar with them before, but for whatever reason this one kind of took a tragic turn today,” Cook said, according to the publication.

The CDC reports that dogs bite 4.5 million people annually. And one particular group of people faces the threat of dog attacks on a daily basis; letter carriers. Each year, more than 6,000 letter carriers will be victims of dog attacks.

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Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.