LAS CRUCES, N.M. (CBS Las Vegas/AP) — Authorities say a baby girl has been fatally mauled by her family’s dog in Las Cruces.

Las Cruces police say the child’s grandmother appears to have been accidentally shot by a neighbor who was trying to stop the animal attack Tuesday afternoon.

The 16-month-old girl suffered multiple injuries to her head and chest and was rushed to a Las Cruces hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Her name hasn’t been released.

The girl’s 52-year-old paternal grandmother received a gunshot wound to her leg and was transported to an El Paso hospital.

Police say the family’s 2-year-old pit bull attacked the young girl in the backyard of her grandparent’s residence. The girl’s grandmother tried to intervene but was attacked by the dog.

Dr. Beth Vesco-Mock, director of the Animal Services Center in Mesilla Valley, said it appeared the girl was originally left alone in the yard with the dog.

“It’s not a dog issue. It’s not a pit bull issue. It’s a responsibility issue,” Dr. Vesco-Mock told the Alamogordo Daily News. “When you get these dogs, you must train them and supervise them, especially when they’re around children, at all times.”

The neighbor later shot and killed the dog.

“It sounded like birds fighting, and then I heard these loud noises. It sounded like something falling against concrete,” neighbor Chris Wollard told the Daily News.

No criminal charges have been filed in the case.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (28)
  1. Turkey says:

    You can’t say “When you get these dogs, you must train them and supervise them, especially when they’re around children, at all times” and then try and tell me its not a breed issue. The pit bull hit 2 years old, it matured and became aggressive like its genetics dictated, happens all the time which is why so many pit bulls are dropped off at shelters around that age. And its time animal control admitted the breed issue instead of making excuses, creating a false sense of security, which leads to more maulings and death. When you lie about pit bulls, they hurt people and other pets, they make the news, and then they are legislated against. Stop the cycle and tell the truth!

  2. Omeca says:

    There needs to be criminal charges filed against the child’s guardians.

  3. SalJ says:

    Turkey, it’s evil morons like you that blame animals instead of taking responsibility for your irresponsibility! IT IS NOT THE BREED! It’s the foolish babysitter! I don’t give a hoot if it was a Chihuahua or even a cat – NEVER leave a small child unsupervised with a pet, if you want the child to remain unharmed. For all we know, the little girl was loving (choking) the dog, and its “instinct” was to give a warning bite, which for small children, is very severe. It’s unfortunate for the child that does not know any better.

    1. Turkey says:

      This was no warning bite. This was a mauling – I can’t believe you think this is acceptable behavior from any dog. And you have the nerve to call me an “evil moron” – that’s real mature, way to drive your point home. Sal, what pit bull apologists like yourself need to come to grips with is people like me are not evil, are not stupid, and are not blaming the breed. Look at my first post – what did I say? I said animal control needs to admit the truth of these dogs. Who am I blaming? People. Because it is people who are naive about fighting breeds, who don’t bother to research, who would rather believe some nice fairy tales about them that don’t stand up to common sense. Pit bull advocates SHOULD know better and SHOULD put owners in a better position to own these dogs so many of these incidents don’t happen. But they don’t do that because they want to get more pits adopted, and that won’t happen if they are truthful. Who are the evil morons? The ones responsible for pit bull incidents? Poor advocacy and irresponsible owners.

      1. SalJ says:

        Turkey, if you were being choked would you attack to kill? I know I sure the heck would. Of course, since the babysitter wasn’t watching the child, we can’t know if the dog was provoked or not.

        Owners need to take responsibility for their pets and that includes not allowing the pets to be around small children unsupervised. Parents need to actually watch their small children instead of letting them babysit themselves. If the child would have sucked down a gallon of Drano while being unsupervised, then whose fault would it be then? The Drano manufacturer for not making the caps on the bottle tight enough? That would be ridiculous.

        I don’t think anyone needs to be informed about keeping small children away from dogs. Even a small dog bite can emotionally and physically scar a child. That should be common sense.

        However, I see a lot of lazy parents that let their kids wander in the streets, leave their children alone to go to another room, and accidentally leave the back door open so their children can fall in the pool. So, I could only imagine they would leave their child alone with their big dog. Maybe those people don’t have the common sense to see potential dangers, and need to be told?

        I personally don’t think small children should ever be unsupervised with any animal big or small. I also don’t think stamping the pit bull as a monster, helps his cause. I think there are already enough dog fights with the poor creatures, and if they are turned away from adoption, they will be used as sport. Perhaps some breeds weren’t meant to be, but they are here now, and they are still being bred for fighting and making money.

        If I had a small child, I would never own a pet over 10 pounds, even if it was the sweetest thing in the world. After seeing the infant death here, maybe parents will be more reluctant to have large pets in their homes with their infants:

        Another case where a Grandma could not save the child from an attack

    2. bobbie lee says:

      Thank you! Anytime a child is attacked by a dog it is not the dogs fault or the childs, its the adult in charge at the time. I have the sweetest pit bull in the world but i would never allow my grandchildren to be around her unsupervised. All dogs have the potential to bite if they feel threatened.

      1. brent james says:

        Bobbie Lee has the “sweetest pit bull in the world”… How many times have those words been spoken just after an unprovoked attack? Yeah, Bobbie Lee, theyre all the best little dogs in the whole wide world and then………

      2. SalJ says:

        You are welcome, Bobbie 🙂 Thank you!

      3. patrice Ferguson says:

        Problem with little tots and big dogs is that in this instance the dog is not the one threatened the child is seen as prey. That is why you don’t let kids still on all fours and or smaller then the dogs head go unsupervised around them . They dog doesn’t recognize it as human but rather as a easy meal. You can take the animal out of the wild but you can’t take the wild out of the animal. That is why nice dogs attack babies and kids. They don’t see them in the same light as they see their masters or other grown people it is submissive to. It is small, there fore its something to chase down and possibly eat.

  4. Disgusted says:

    Excuses excuses…the Pitt bull is second only to the Rottweiler for biting and attacking people…tell the truth…Turkey did

  5. Hyenas_make_good_pets_too says:

    criminal charges should be levied against Dr. Vesco-Moc for saying ignorant and irresponsible things !

  6. SalJ says:

    Wow, you people are really special. I hope you never play with animals, and I definitely hope that you do not have children, and if you do, I hope they are not unfortunate enough to be around animals unsupervised. Talk about excuses? You are making excuses for all the irresponsible parents out there – the same ones that allow their children to get injured because they can’t pay attention to their own kids. The same parents that probably lock their kids in a car on a hot day. OWN UP and take some responsibility!

    1. Turkey says:

      And where do you see that happening? Where do you see anyone making excuses for irresponsible parents? Sal, maybe you have never seen how quickly a dog can bite a child, even if there is supervision. The truth is, a simple dog bite, a warning bite, would not have killed this little girl. And you know that. Stop carrying on like this to deflect from the real issue: fighting breeds are genetically different.

  7. moklodge says:

    It’s simple. Most breeds bite when aggressive, Pit Bulls KILLwhen aggressive. It’s ultimately the owners who do need to take resposibility but it’s naive and irresponsible to portray these vicious and deadly creatures as harmless or misunderstood. Owning potentially harmful wild animals is outlawed or requires special permitting so why should Pit Bulls be simply a pet? Just because they have been somewhat domesticated? Wolves, Coyotes and Hyenas are dogs too. Maybe we should all own one of those and complain that they are misunderstood. I’m sure they can be domesticated just like any other animal.

    1. SalJ says:

      @moklodge, never said you didn’t love dogs 😉

      I for one, would never leave a small child alone with “domesticated” zoo animals or any kind of big dog. I would prefer that the child only see “potentially” dangerous animals from afar. I don’t even like it when my 2 year old niece plays with cats. She hugs them around the neck, and then they swat paws at her or try to bite.

      I agree that when dogs are larger and become aggressive, it is more dangerous than when smaller animals become aggressive. I also agree that an owner needs to be more responsible with their pet. I don’t even let small children play with my Chihuahua, since she can get hyper and jump and scratch.

      I have known some extremely lovable pit bulls that are just big babies. Even if I trusted a large dog in my home, I would never let him around other people’s children without close supervision. And, if the child was still a toddler, I would most likely keep the dog in another room, so that it would have minimal interaction with the child.

      If a responsible adult wants to own a pt bull, I don’t see the problem. It’s the same thing with guns; sure, they have the potential to be dangerous – but that all depends on the owner.

      1. bobbie lee says:

        Thank you!

      2. patrice Ferguson says:

        It depends on the dog as well. Each dogs temperment is different. Always have a place the dog can go when it feels it has had enough of the kids and can relax undesturbed by children. A den, a room, a crate. any place at all that the kid cannot follow it. Dogs know when they have had their fill of over rambunctious youngsters. Make sure it knows where it can go. Teach the child not to persue it.

        things to teach children not to do with a dog or cat.
        1 pull its tale
        Pull its ears or pinch the skin.
        Bite the animal as you will get bit back. Screaming.
        2. Don’t play with pet while eating and drinking.
        3. Don’t follow the pet if walks away from you or snaps or hisses at you.
        4 Let a sleepy dog or cat lie. / parents should not let their pets sleep in the bed with the child or in its room without a crate.
        5. If pet gets a toy and is mauling it call parents to get the toy don’t try to rescue the toy from the dog.
        Parents for safe measure get a large super soaker squirt gun that gushes water not sprays but gushes and keep it loaded and handy when little kids and dogs are together. Even in the worst dog and dog or dog and human contact a pit bull and most other breeds will disingage a hold and stop attacking if they are hosed with water do not try to break or get in the business end of those teethe. Just spray them about the head and face. The dog even ravenously mad will disingage and forget the fight seconds later. Or use a pale of water and dump the water on the dogs head. Pits don’t especially care for water so its a good tool I have used to break up fights between dogs that get loose and charge and engage mine while walking the dogs. Such ugly moments end very fast. So get a big gusher and keep it nearby.

    2. patrice Ferguson says:

      Pit bulls power is what kills not the temper. This is a dog that has great strength over and above many times your typical breed of dog. He or she has 4 times the biting strength of a German shephard. He has when fully grown and assuming he has not been nuetured before the first year the muscular ability to haul at least 1 thousand pounds behind him shoulders and hind legs. Can jump when trained to three times it’s bodies length virtically. Can chase down a greyound and bowl it down with it’s head at speads of 30 miles an hour for short distances. A well conditioned Pit can tackle and drag a full grown two hundred pound human with ease and drag it anywhere it likes usually by the neck as this is the favored method of any animal that kills with its teeth. His neck strength alone is about 500 lbs. Running distance capability is about four miles non stop. Tread mill tested. Hard run for about 90 yards 35 to 40 mph. You better know what your doing owning a fully capable hunter. These dogs were bred originally for that purpose to hunt and drag prey after you shoot it of course. They can chase large game animals in thick forests because of their low profile but powerful bodies. Ideal dogs for hunters. Mine have chased black bears up a tree in senseless fear a couple of times.

  8. moklodge says:

    BTW, I’m a lifetime dog lover as well and spent over $10,000 in surgeries last year on my older dog so don’t preach that you love dogs more than me. You don’t.

  9. Peter says:

    People keep calling for more supervision, do you really think if a pit bull loses its patience and latches onto your childs neck that you being in the room will be able to stop it.

    1. SalJ says:

      Peter, part of supervision means that the dog will never be that close to the child. I.E. Leash the dog or tie it up, or put it in another room

      1. Turkey says:

        Ridiculous. A family pet should not have to be leashed, tied up or put in another room just because a child is present. What you are saying is that no one can have kids and dogs at the same time, and that is ridiculous. Other dogs don’t act like fighting breeds, they are social and live with children quite well. Children read to dogs in libraries! If you can’t trust a dog to “never be that close to a child” then there is something wrong with that dog and it is a threat to society.

    2. patrice Ferguson says:

      No you won’t. Pit bulls and kids don’t go together in the same sentense. They are work animals not pets. Kids make lots of noise, screatching, yelling, yakking and do all sorts of hyper things that un nerve Pit bulls. They have a place as a working dog it is not the home with small kids. If you have one you should have crate and keep them apart when kids are afoot. I have pit bulls for 35 years as working dogs. No matter that I know each temperment of them that I have ever owned I would not trust anything younger then a teen around them. As for giving a pit to a novice dog owner? Never. Would only sell my pups to people that are skilled in their handling. If I know that they have young children and they plan on having the animal in the house with the kids I would think twice. Spay them as young as ten months Nuetur by first year and start rigourous training shortly after. These are not house bets.

    3. patrice Ferguson says:

      If your in the room chances are that you will be able to watch the child antics around the dog and prevent it from doing something that the dog may attack the child for. And yes the presence of an alpha will substantially alter its behavior around the kid as well. Babies are prey to a dog of any breed. They are smaller then the dog they go on all fours and cannot do anything but nake a lot of noise. So the dog does not see a baby human the way it sees you. Your presence is everything.

  10. SalJ says:

    There are plenty of stories where the sweet family dog attacked a child. And no, they were not typical “fighting breeds”.

    This story is about irresponsibility. We have no idea what happened between dog and child, because the grandmother was negligent and not watching the kid. The kid could have mowed her own face off with a lawn mower in the backyard just as well.

    “It appeared the girl was originally left alone in the yard with the dog”

    So grandma couldn’t even intervene if the dog did show signs of aggression towards the child, cause she was most likely too busy being selfish and doing something more important.

    Also, we don’t know if this was a “family pet”. The dog might not have even known the child. My dog would sure the heck be leashed around strangers. I don’t need a lawsuit for when a kid pokes its finger in my dog’s eye and gets bit.I sure the heck would never let anyone be alone with my dog, for my dog’s safety as well.

    1. patrice Ferguson says:

      When people say house pet it makes me wonder. These cuddly dogs need something to keep them busy, learning and doing things to keep its mind active. Training is essential for all animals including cats. Dogs are especially needing training because that is what keeps them calm. They must know and follow the order the pack. You as an owner must learn your role in that pack as your dogs alpha. If you don’t establish that order your dog will suffer for it psychologically causing problems for you, the family, and itself. It is like letting a child go without schooling and rules in the house about its conduct. Wait to do that to late you have a juvinile delinquent on the loose causing mayhem of all sorts. Not to mention a depressed teen that doesn’t have any skills in self regulatiion. If you don’t want that for your kid why would you do that to your pet? In nature the alpha dog sets the rules and the order. If you don’t the dog will. And since you know not his intentions or designs both of your will be off to a bad start.

  11. SalJ says:

    Well said, Patrice. And I do agree with you that some of the smaller infants can be seen as prey. I’ve seen small house pets get attacked by larger dogs. They can’t understand that the smaller pet means something to you – it is their instinct to go after it.

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