‘Freak accident’ or vicious dog? Thousands try to save dog that bit off boy’s hand

Screengrab from Care2 Petitions

An online petition that seeks to save two dogs after one bit off a 4-year-old boy’s hand Sunday in Utah is nearing 100,000 signatures as of Wednesday morning.

The child had put a sock over his hand to play with the dogs, described as Huskies, through a chain-link fence in his backyard 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. The boy’s parents provided first aid and the boy was airlifted by helicopter to a hospital for surgery.

Neighbors and Layton officials said the two dogs had no history of biting or other aggressive behavior, The Gephardt Daily reported.

Both dogs are now in quarantine for 10 days to check for rabies, which is standard in dog bite cases, said Rhett Nicks, director of Davis County Animal Care and Control, KSTU reported.

“There’s a severe injury to a human,” Nicks said, KTVX reported. “So we are doing a dangerous dog investigation which could range from nothing being done up to including euthanasia.”

Jessica Nusz, a friend of the owner, started the online petition to save the dogs, named Polar and Bear, KSTU reported.

“It was just a freak accident and the neighbors know it was a freak accident especially if you’re not careful with big dogs,” Nusz said, KTVX reported.

In the petition, Nusz argues the “unfortunate” incident probably took place because the dogs mistook the sock for a toy and tried to play tug-of-war, not realizing the boy’s hand was inside.

The petition, at the Care2 online petition site, was nearing 100,000 signatures as of Wednesday morning.

“The dog thought it was a toy. It’s not the dogs fault,” wrote one person who signed.

Some petition backers said the parents of the 4-year-old, not the dogs, are to blame.

“The dogs should not suffer due to negligence of a parent,” a person commented.

“This is ultimately the parents fault, the child should never have been unsupervised, even in their own backyard,” wrote another.

Nicks said animal control officials will look at all the facts in their investigation, KSTU reported.

“We look at the whole situation,” Nicks said, according to the station. “We try to look at every situation that could determine the animal dangerous, as well as could mitigate the fact that the animal is dangerous.”

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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.