Susannah Jean Murray was mauled to death by her family’s pit bull just minutes after an adult in the home had checked on the 3-week-old girl, sparking new debate over the troubled dog breed.
Murray was killed in her home in Grand Rapids, Michigan, earlier this week. A report from USA Today noted that family members found the infant bleeding with a severe head injury, and that a pit bull was found nearby with blood around its mouth.
Susannah was taken to a nearby hospital for emergency surgery, but was pronounced dead seven hours later.
The death of Susannah Jean Murray sparked debate over whether pit bulls are inherently dangerous as a dog breed. Family members noted that the newborn was only left alone for a few minutes when the animal attacked. Many commenters noted that the breed is too dangerous for children, while others noted that pit bulls, like all other dogs, are a produce of their environment and training.
Neighbors said the family’s dogs were vicious, trying to attack strangers as they walked by the home.
“They are so mean and vicious,” Akilah Gordon told Detroit Free Press.
Other neighbors said that the family’s pit bulls would sometimes chase people when they were able to escape from the home’s fence.
— wesley wu (@jileiso369) May 28, 2017
The death of Susannah Jean Murray came at the same time as a much more positive story about pit bulls, serving as a contrast for defenders of the dog breed.
— ABC13 Houston (@abc13houston) May 28, 2017
Near Houston, a pit bull that had been abandoned as a puppy and sent to an animal shelter was scheduled to be euthanized when an employee contacted the local police department to see if the animal could be of any use. The department took in the dog, named Apollo, and underwent training to become a narcotics dog.
More than a year later, the pit bull got a second chance and started work with the police department, ABC 13 reported.
“No one would give him a chance simply because he was a pit bull who often have bad reputations based on misconceptions and lack of training,” the Tukwila Police Department wrote on Facebook.
“The trainer stated that he was a high drive dog and he would finish first in narcotics school if someone would give him a chance. All he needed was a chance.”
“We decided to give Apollo that chance and we are glad that we did. Apollo finished narcotics school in November of last year and did indeed finish first in his class. He is extremely friendly and can often be found trying to get us to play with him. He has brought great joy to all of us at the department in addition to being a very productive and hard worker. He is now a part of his handlers personal family and the family of the Tukwila Police Department.”
Police in Michigan took the death of Susannah Jean Murray as an opportunity to stress the dangerous of leaving children alone with dogs.
“The breed of a pit bull, by itself, is not enough to condemn it, any dog can bite,” GRPD spokesman Sgt. Terry Dixon told USA Today. “This serves as a critical reminder to never leave a child unattended around a dog.”
“When you have an infant or children who are unable to defend themselves, basically defenseless, an adult should always be in the company of a child especially a three-week-old,” Dixon added in an interview with WWMT.
After the death of Susannah Jean Murray, police took the family’s three dogs to an animal shelter where they being held under quarantine, the USA Today reported. They have not yet said if any family members might face charges.
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