The death of 7-month-old Indianapolis boy who was mauled by a dog in Ohio on Sunday was ruled an accident even as family and investigators searched for answers Monday.
Johnathan Quarles Jr. died from multiple blunt force injuries, according to preliminary autopsy findings from the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office, which declared the death an accident.
Johnathan Jr. came with family who were here for the weekend to visit relatives, and he was with a step-grandmother at a Dayton home, police said.
The Rev. Victor Lee, associate pastor at Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, has talked with the family.
“Grandma is very numb,” Lee said. “This is a tragedy when you have an infant … who is taken away unexpectedly — when you come here on a vacation and not be able to take your child back home with you.”
It is still unclear why the 4-year-old American Staffordshire terrier attacked the infant. The tan and white terrier is registered to Kimiko Hardy, according to dog license records.
Family visit turns to tragedy
The infant’s father, Johnathan Quarles Sr., told WTHR in Indianapolis that his son was “joyful and playful. He liked to laugh and smile.”
“It’s just disbelief,” he said. “I still can’t believe it.”
Johnathan Jr.’s grandmother, Nicole Quarles, said a “dog, no matter what kind of dog it is, shouldn’t be left around a baby.”
“Whoever was watching was irresponsible,” Quarles said to WTHR.
Lee said the family is trying to cope with the tragedy as best as they can.
Lee said the possibility that the step-grandmother could face criminal charges weighs heavily on her.
“It’s one thing when you lose your grandbaby to some unfortunate incident and then to have some stipulations hanging over your head, I know it’s terrifying for her,” Lee said.
Cathy Petersen, Montgomery County spokeswoman, said the dog is alive and being held at the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center. Petersen deferred all other comment to the Dayton Police Department because it is an ongoing investigation. Dayton Police Department Lt. Wendy Stiver said the investigation is ongoing and offered no updates, but officers returned to the house Monday.
The final coroner’s report will be completed in six to eight weeks, officials said. The final report will include the number of bites and locations.
Hardy did not return a call seeking comment.
Hardy’s neighbor, Lamas Crowders, made the 911 call to dispatchers just after noon Sunday.
Crowders, who said he’s been Kano and Kimiko Hardy’s neighbor for six years, said he has never had any issues with the dog and described him as a “family pet.” His dog, a terrier, even has spent time with their dog, he said.
“I don’t want anyone to think he’s a vicious dog, because he wasn’t,” he said. “I honestly think he got jealous. It’s just tragic and terrible.”
The dog has a recent history of attacks on people and animals, according to records obtained by the Dayton Daily News from the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center.
The dog had not been designated as nuisance, dangerous or vicious, Petersen said.
On April 25, ARC officers responded to a complaint from the Northridge Post Office that one of its carriers was attacked by a dog.
“…A large dog came from around the right side of the house and charged the letter carrier,” USPS spokesman David Van Allen said in an email. “The dog tried to bite the carrier’s leg, but the carrier was able to get his mail satchel between his leg and the dog, preventing being bitten.”
The carrier declined an interview, Van Allen said.
Hardy was cited for failing to have the dog licensed and was given education. Hardy bought a license for the dog five days later.
In a June 3 report, Isabelle Crickmore said she was walking her 8-year-old beagle when the terrier ran out and attacked her dog. Hardy received a warning from ARC. A Dayton Police Department report said the beagle was bitten “3-4 times in the rear leg area.”
Hardy exchanged information with Crickmore when she returned to handle vet bills, according to the report. Crickmore did not want to press charges, but wanted the incident documented, the report said.
Crickmore said her dog needed 11 staples. Hardy called to check on the dog, but Crickmore’s follow-up attempt to let Hardy know the vet bill was $173 failed, Crickmore said.
“It could’ve all been avoided,” Crickmore said. “Something needs to be done. That dog definitely needs to go for sure now.”
Children at risk
Dayton Children’s saw almost 300 kids for dog bites in 2013 and in the first quarter of this year saw 55 bites, said Lisa Schwing, trauma program manager at the hospital.
Typically, she said, the number of bites picks up during the summer months when kids and dogs are outside playing.
Kids most often are the victims of dog bites, she said. “Because kids are short and they are right at the dog’s face level, we see a lot of facial injuries.”
The injuries generally are lacerations but can be very serious. Between January and the end of June of this year, 10 children had to be hospitalized because of the severity of the dog bites they received, she said. In 2013, 21 kids had to be hospitalized because of serious dog injuries.
“These can be multiple, massive lacerations,” she said. "Dogs tend to bite around the mouth and around the eyes.”
Schwing said children can be threatening to dogs.
“The baby’s crying and the dog’s irritated by it,” she said, as an example. “People can’t be careful enough when they’ve got a child around a dog that’s not particularly used to a child being around.
“You really need to keep them separated.”
Sunday’s attack was the second dog mauling death in Dayton since February, which has prompted officials to call for tougher laws related to dangerous dogs.
On Feb. 7, 57-year-old Klonda Richey was attacked and killed by two mixed-mastiff dogs outside of her home in Dayton. The dogs, which were killed by police after the attack, were owned by Richey’s neighbors, Andrew Nason and Julie Custer.
Since Richey’s death, Representatives Roland Winburn and Terry Blair have introduced legislation to increase penalties for dog owners, when their pets attack. Sen. Bill Beagle also is working on legislation for the Senate.
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