Friday, January 27, 2006

PETCO Dog Attack Not The Fault Of The Store

Diane Christian knows how her daughter loves dogs. So when she saw little Danielle patting a friendly looking rottweiler in PETCO Monday afternoon, she thought nothing of it.

Then she heard a horrible sound -- a growl and the snapping of teeth -- and looked down to see 5-year-old Danielle's face covered in blood.

"It was very traumatic," said Christian, 41, of Bay Shore. "I picked her up and started running around, looking for someone to help. There was a lot of blood."

After a four-hour surgery to reattach her upper lip, Danielle is still recovering at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore. And Christian said more surgeries lie ahead.

"My child will never look the same because of this," she said.

The rottweiler was not on sale at the Bay Shore PETCO; it belonged to a shopper. PETCO has a policy of inviting animals to shop with their owners, a company spokesman said.

But Christian said letting pets interact with customers invites trouble. She's retained a lawyer, Kenneth Mollins of Melville, and plans to take legal action against the dog's owner and/or PETCO, possibly as early as today.

I don’t blame PETCO for this tragedy. This is the fault of the dog owner, who brought a dog into a public place that wasn’t good with kids. This is also NOT a Rottweiler problem. This could have happened with any breed of dog. I have seen many dogs, comprising a wide variety of breeds, that just weren’t safe with kids, and would bite them if the kids got too close.


DrTosaken said...

I also agree that PETCO is not at fault.
There are 2 important facts here:
1. They allege that it was someone OTHER THAN THE OWNER who was IN CONTROL of the Rottweiler who brought the dog into PETCO -- I am not excusing the behavior until I know ALL the facts.
2. The mother has contributory negligence -- it "appears" from the brief description that this 5 year old was NOT being controlled by her mother.
Her mother allowed Danielle to approach a dog with whom neither was familiar -- a strict taboo with ANY dog, anywhere.
For the record, I was called as an expert witness by the Colonial Rottweiler Club to give testimony in a similar case, albeit some 20 years ago.

It is a tragedy nonetheless.

good karma said...

Let the mom blame whomever she needs inorder to have peace of mind. However, let the rest of us learn that we need to be especially careful to use these pet stores as a training tool for our children, our dogs, and ourselves. What better place to teach your kids how to approach a new dog, what to ask the owner, and how to look for signs of trouble, before interacting with any dog. In fact, I think this is where I taught my kids some of this. These stores' policies are wonderful and are almost always enjoyable for dogs, adults and kids. I hope that any court would agree that the owner is responsible for their own dog.

Brooklyn said...

I think many dogs have food issues. These kinds of stores seem ripe for this sort of thing. I have an unpredictible dog and always tell children and adults not to pet him when they ask and his body langage tells me he is affraid. He was a rescue and despite training dislikes the hand over the head pet. People do not care and try to pet him anyway.

It is not an issue if their hand is down and he can make his own choice. I also have had near misses with my child. Basically, I hate people who bring children and let them loose in dog parks but in a store I think the adult with the dog should have steped up the dog was on leash where was their eyes.

Annexdoglady said...

This indeed is a tragedy! I feel very poorly for the child who will most probably be disfigured, and tragecially, probably afraid of dogs for the remainder of her life.

Sadly, the Mother should have never let her child approach an unknown dog, regardless of breed. I have two Golden Retrievers who would NEVER bite, yet I am always on guard because in the end, they are DOGS!! Despite my asking people over and over again not to grab my dogs (which is often the case when people pass by - grabbing their tails, ears or a handful of fur). With children, I become especially aware because just my dogs excitement (with NO biting) could potentially harm a small child. Even though constantly on guard, often people will reach out and grab without my seeing them coming.

This is a very tragic story. I feel for all involved.

Bill said...

My dogs were mauled in the Freeport petco yesterday by an UNLEASHED pitbull, who was taken off the leash by a store photographer. One of my dogs lost half an ear, the other gouged in the side, and I had to fight the pit bull, do I have any recourse against Petco?

Sam Basso said...

Obviously, this is my opinion, but what the law says might be completely different and often is. If anyone is an attorney out there, can you give an opinion?