A family dog quarantined after mauling a toddler and her mother in Castaic Friday will likely be put down, the mother said Monday, the day after she and her daughter were released from the hospital.
“We could never live with ourselves if he was with another family,” the attacked mother said.
The attack happened shortly before 10:10 a.m. on the 31000 block of Nichols Lane, where the family dog, described as an 80-pound pit bull mix, attacked the pair.
In the four years that “Opi” has been a member of the family, the dog has remained caring, playful and protective, the mother said.
On Friday, however, the dog just snapped.
It lunged, unprovoked, and grabbed the 10-month-old girl by her head in its mouth. Then, when her mother scooped up the toddler, and pried the jaws apart, the dog continued to go after the little girl, mauling the mother who shielded the toddler.
After reading what she described as cruel online posts about the attack, the injured woman asked that she share her story on condition she not be identified.
The mother was treated with more than 100 stitches to close the wounds on her face, and her daughter received even more than that.
“The surgeons said there would be no permanent damage,” she said, noting, however, that memory of the attack will last.
Part of the family
Opi was 4 to 6 months old when he was adopted four years ago. The family was told it was a pit bull mixed breed with parts Labrador retriever and at least one other breed, but they’re not sure.
“He was a part of our family,” the mother said. “He sat in my lap, slept in our bed. He’s in our engagement photos and involved in every aspect of family life.”
The family has a smaller, older dog, named Missy, which was in the house during the attack but not attacked.
“Opi was very protective of me and, when I was pregnant, protective of my belly,” she said.
When the baby was born, she never left her alone with the dogs. “Even when I went to the bathroom, I took her with me,” she said.
On the day of the attack, the mother, still in pajamas, put a bottle in the bottle warmer.
“We were sitting on the couch, watching Mickey Mouse. The little dog was on the right. Opi was by the sliding door, sitting in his doggy bed, sunbathing.”
The daughter was eating dehydrated apple slices when the mother glanced at the TV.
“There was no growling, no warning,” she said. “I was standing there and I felt him push past me, and as I looked at the TV for a second, I looked down and see her head in his mouth.
“I shoved the coffee table. I pushed him off. I pulled his jaws apart. I covered her with my body but he kept coming back.
“Because he couldn’t get to her, he bit my face,” she said. “And, he’s never even growled at me.”
There was no taunting, no feeding. The dogs are fed regularly, she added.
“We’re training them that they cannot eat her leftovers.
“I thought he was going to kill her. I was screaming, ‘Opi, don’t kill my baby. Opi, don’t kill my baby.’
“I hit him really hard,” she said. “Then I grabbed her (daughter) and sprinted to the door. I ran in my socks. I went out the front door and made sure he didn’t follow us.”
The mother, clutching her child, said she ran next door but no one answered.
She ran to a house where the garage was open. Residents there called 911 and applied towels to the wounds of both mother and child.
The mother and child were airlifted to Northridge Hospital Medical Center.
Doctors applied numerous “dissolvable stitches” to the baby and regular stitches to the mother, keeping a close eye on both patients over the weekend.
A plastic surgeon was called in.
“When they did the CT scan, they found a piece of his (dog’s) tooth near my eye,” the mother said.
“He (dog) ripped open my cheek so it looked like a fish gill, from my eyebrow to my jaw,” she said.
The daughter underwent surgery.
“I was worried she would have to have a blood transfusion because she lost so much blood. The floor was covered. It was like a horror movie.”
Before she got on the helicopter bound for the hospital, the mother said she urgently needed to phone her husband.
When she entered her home quickly to get her cell phone, she found Opi.
“He wanted to play. He didn’t know he did anything wrong,” she said.
Opi remains in the custody of the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control.
“We have 10 days to decide what we’re going to do. But we know what we have to do,” the mother said.
She’s been having nightmares since the attack. She says that, by all indications — looking at a happy playful little girl — her daughter doesn’t seem to recall the attack. “When we came home, she went to his toy. She wanted to play with him. I told her, ‘Opi gone bye bye.’”