Dog lovers have leapt to the defence of a ‘killer’ breed after a pet Staffy mauled a five-week-old baby boy to death as his parents slept.
The six-year-old American Staffordshire terrier killed the baby in his home in Kariong, on the NSW Central Coast, in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Paramedics arrived at the scene about 2.18am, but the infant could not be revived. The family pet was euthanised several days later.
Residents claimed American Staffies have been responsible for a spate of viscous attacks in the area.
The horrific tragedy has reignited debate about vicious breeds, with some experts warning such powerful dogs should never be within three metres of a child.
The baby’s death has also divided the internet, with Staffy lovers describing the dogs as ‘wonderful family pets’ and placing the blame on the owners instead.
Pictured: A distraught man outside a home where a newborn baby boy was mauled to death by a Staffy
‘So sick of breed shaming when it comes to Staffies,’ one owner wrote on Facebook.
‘We have a staff and all he ever wants is to love and be loved. Staffies are beautiful dogs and if raised right, make for the best companions. It all comes down to owners not raising dog right.’
Another owner added: ‘It’s not the breed it’s how they are raised, I have a American Staffy and she is so gentle and a big sook wouldn’t hurt a fly.’
A third wrote: ‘We’ve had three while the kids were growing up and they had the most beautiful nature. You give them love and respect and they will give it back unconditionally.’
Others put the onus on the dog owners.
‘Ban people who are not capable of looking after their pets,’ one wrote.
Another added: ‘With dog ownership comes responsibility the tragedy could have been avoided if owners knew their dog.’
The death renewed calls to ban staffys from Australia. Dog expert says some pets need more training (stock image of a staffy)
There were some calls for the breed to be banned.
‘Ban them. They’re trouble makers,’ one wrote.
‘Poor baby. Ban the breed, imprison the owners,’ wrote another.
Canine experts said the dog involved in Sunday’s tragedy should never have been near the baby it ‘viewed as prey’.
However, they insisted specific dog breeds, like Staffies, were not inherently dangerous, instead saying individual dogs were ‘unstable’ and should be put down.
This is despite some types of dogs being bred to hunt and kill, and being overrepresented in fatal attacks – prompting calls to ban them.
Pictured: First responders at a home on the Central Coast after the five-week-old boy was killed. Canine experts warned dogs should never be left with small children
Four weeks before the infant was mauled, the same dog dragged a spaniel named Arrow under the backyard fence and viciously killed him.
The local council told the owners to take their pet for a temperament assessment. But a month later, the little boy was dead.
Dog behavioural expert Nathan McCredie explained that to a dog, such a small child was not thought of as a human, but instead a catch.
‘That dog would have had no idea the boy was a human – babies are a different size, they smell different, they scream and squeal,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘To the Staffy, it looks like prey.’
Mr McCredie, who runs canine training service Dog Gone Mad, said any such animal – especially one with a violent history – should never have been allowed in the same room as the baby.
‘I wouldn’t have it around my kids. Letting it loose around kids while unsupervised – that scares the hell out of me,’ the father-of-two said.
Pictured: A dog after he was attacked by a staffy on the street. Half his ear was sliced off
Pictured: The sad-looking dog after a staffy came along and attacked him – slicing off half his ear
‘I don’t have dogs within a three metre radius of kids under the age of 14, and if I do, it’s because I invited the dog in and I can control it.’
Mr McCredie said 80 to 90 per cent of dog bites are the animal’s way of saying they are in pain, and children under the age of 14 often don’t know when they are inflicting pain or discomfort on an animal.
If the dog decides to strike, kids are smaller and significantly less powerful than a large and muscly dog, like an American Staffordshire terrier, and can’t escape the its jaws.
Residents in the region of the Jeff’s Close, Kariong, home where the baby died claim American staffies are responsible for a spate of viscous attacks.
Central Coast local Elly told Daily Mail Australia her friend was walking her 12-year-old dog Buddy, when two roaming staffies appeared.
‘My friend tried to protect him but he was dragged out of her arms and ripped to pieces in front of her,’ she said.
‘She was badly injured, hospitalised and now has scars for life – scars visible on her arms which remind her every day of the hideous event, and she is now mentally scarred forever from witnessing a horror she can never un-see.’
In another horrific attack, a dog of the same breed attacked a man’s pet and sliced his ear off.
Pictured: Dog behavioural expert Nathan McCredie, who is the owner of canine training service Dog Gone Mad. He warned against leaving dogs in the company of children
When asked why some dogs would behave that way, Mr McCredie said some dogs were just aggressive and couldn’t be helped.
‘I see it with all breeds. Some dogs are just unstable and should be put to sleep. I have no doubt that staffy was unstable,’ he said.
Another dog expert, Nathan Williams from training company Dog Behavioural Specialist, told Daily Mail Australia that humans often teach canines to kill by playing games like tug-of-war with them.
‘Dogs aren’t meant to have toys – they’ve only been around for 40 to 50 years and we now have more problems than we’ve ever had before,’ he said.
‘When dogs use their mouths on something non protein-based, they learn that it’s OK to do that with other objects. Tug-of-war is violent and riles the dog up, so we’re teaching them that’s okay.’
He also said dogs had very sensitive hearing, so when they play with squeaky toys, they get agitated by the sound and use their mouth to stop it squeaking.
That logic could transfer to a cat or a baby, with tragic consequences.
Like Mr McCredie, Mr Williams said the killer dog was probably triggered because the baby was crying – but would not have known it was hurting a human.
Pictured: Nathan Williams, who is the owner of training company Dog Behavioural Specialist
When asked what dog breeds are the most dangerous to children, both experts said all breeds can potentially be dangerous – but staffies were getting a lot of attention because they were such a popular dog.
‘German Shepherds used to be really popular and they had bad reputation for biting kids, Dobermans were popular in the ’70s and there were lots of reports of those attacking babies and other dogs – now its staffies,’ Mr Williams said.
Mr McCredie said tragedies like the one on the Central Coast usually happen because the owners were uneducated about how to care for their pet.
‘There is no such thing as an unpredictable dog – it’s a lack of education, and people don’t know what’s safe and what’s not,’ he said.
He suggested about three months of mandatory training for all dogs and their owners to ensure fatalities like the one this weekend didn’t happen again.