A four-year-old in Hesperia, California, was severely bitten by his father’s police dog, necessitating the amputation of his leg below the knee, according to the Associated Press.
The boy, Hunter Mastaler, remained hospitalized four days after the Belgian shepherd dog, named Jango, clamped onto his left leg his family’s back yard. Hunter will remain hospitalized for another week, according to Rialto Police Captain Randy De Anda. The captain said that, with a prosthetic, the boy could be able to run again within six months.
Hunter’s father, Michael Mastaler, was the seven-year-old dog’s handler for approximately two years in the Rialto police force, according to ABC News.
On Sunday afternoon, Mastaler returned from a two-day trip to Big Bear, where he had run a boot camp for at-risk youth.
Jango was left in a large back yard kennel during the trip. When Mastaler returned from his trip, he let the dog into the back yard before going into the house. He went upstairs to change for about two minutes.
Hunter was playing video games inside, but he opened a sliding glass door and screen and went into the yard, De Anda said, when his father was upstairs. Mastaler’s wife had gone shopping with their 18-month-old son.
For an unknown reason, the dog went into “bite mode” and clamped onto the boy as he was trained to do in some criminal situations, the police captain stated.
Hunter’s screams alerted neighbors to his plight. They called 911 and rushed to help. Neighbors knocked over a fence and pried open the dog’s jaws to free the boy.
Jeff Houlemard smashed into a gate, knocking down the fence, to rescue the boy. Houlemard said the following.
“I kicked the dog, but it still didn’t let him go, so I whipped him around and pulled the [dog’s] mouth open. The attack was probably going on for at least two minutes before he was pulled out.”
Houlemard’s son and another teenager pulled Hunter to safety. De Anda said that Houlemard then picked up the dog, slammed it to the ground and pinned it “in a bear-hug” until Hunter’s father came outside and put the shepherd in the kennel.
Houlemard’s wife, Shannon, tried to keep the boy calm by singing his ABCs and 123s with him, she told the San Bernardino Sun. “I was just trying to keep his mind off what just had happened,” she said.
Jango was placed in a 10-day quarantine and, following an investigation, it’s likely that he will be euthanized, De Anda said. He noted that the dog had no history of aggression and received regular training and that his record as a patrol, SWAT, and narcotics dog was “impeccable.”
“We don’t know what prompted the bite,” he said.
The department’s four police dogs are always supposed to be under direct supervision of their handlers, and the department is investigating to make sure there were no policy violations, De Anda stated.
Hunter’s father has been at the hospital since the attack. “He is devastated,” the police captain said.
[Photo Courtesy of the Inquisitr]