outI asked my assistant, who has three German Shepherd dogs and sometimes her in-laws over as well, if any of her daughter's friends parents have ever asked her anything about how she handles and supervises the dogs while their kids are over and she said no. I asked her next if she ever asked her daughter's friends parents with dogs about how they supervise the dogs and the kids and what their experience is as dog handlers. She said that she didn't. Another client of mine once remarked about how wonderful her dogs were with kids and that her male dog would be down with the boys in the basement playroom and the girls would be upstairs with their female dog. I asked her if she was supervising. She said no. It had never occurred to her that that wasn't a smart idea and if anything happened how high the stakes were. In watching the interplay between dog and human behavior it is clear how much of dog behavior that is automatic. Having a less developed pre-frontal cortex and executive function, while being designed to live in a wild pack and not as a member of the Brady Bunch, makes it difficult for dogs to meet all of our expectations. Bad things are more likely to happen when our need to have kids and dogs go together like peanut butter and jelly outweigh the fact that we have to keep kids safe and control the situations we allow our dogs to be in. Two dogs can be playing and another jumps in for a pot shot. A dog gets fixated on something and another dog is instantly attached to it waiting to nip and bite it. So if kids are rough housing how could a dog not behave in the same way it would with other dogs. Its not malicious but normal for a predator that is designed to pounce on opportunity. Or the girls decide they will play dress up the dog and the dog decides it doesn't want the visiting little girl to put a tutu on it. Its normal for a dog in their superior/subordinate relationships to discipline subordinates for infractions.
As dog owners and parents it is up to us to ensure that we don't set our kids or pets up for problems. Its easy to vilify the dogs after an event but as a parent I would not allow my child to be babysat by a person with dogs-regardless of size, how many or what breed-without knowing what was going on, how they would be handling situations and to degree their handling ability is able to keep a tragedy from happening.
After teaching thousands of people, there aren't many people I would actually allow my child to be visiting who owned a dog. So ask questions, assess the situation and see if it is worth it. Look for the Parent's Guide to Safe Play Dates in Dog Owning Homes. Coming soon.
By Denise A Justin, Thu, March 07, 2013 A 14-month-old toddler named Dax was spending Wednesday afternoon at the home of a babysitter, Susan Iwicki, in Walworth County, southeastern Wisconsin, when her two Pit Bulls suddenly attacked and fatally mauled him, according to WISN12 News
The Sheriff’s Department received a frantic 911 call around 12:45 p.m. from Susan Iwicki, 30, stating that she and the little boy were being attacked by her two Pit Bulls at the home on North Lakeshore Drive in Walworth Township and she could not stop them. Deputies and rescue personnel rushed to the scene, but it was too late to save Dax .
The badly mauled boy was transported first to Mercy Walworth Medical Center, then flown by the Flight For Life helicopter to Children's Hospital with critical injuries. He died there at 3:32 p.m., according to a news release by the Walworth County Sheriff's Department.
An adult woman, identified in the release as Susan Iwicki, 30, also was injured in the attack, according to the release.
Family friends said that Dax was a “beautiful little boy with loving parents…who deserved better.” According to a WTMJ News report, the dogs just "lost control.”
Local resident Nicole Jennison, told WTMJ she used to babysit Dax and said, “He is adorable, absolutely adorable.”
"[He had the] biggest eyes, great smile,” said family friend Valerie Brylow. “He was a great little boy. A sweet soul--taken far too soon.
"Hold your family close tonight,” Brylow added. “Life is very short obviously."
Another friend, Sandra Berg said she works with Dax's father. She fought back tears and said it is hard to find words to say how much she cares about the family, “I just want you guys to know you have a huge support system and we're all here for you," she stated.
According to reporters, the Pit Bulls' owner would not comment about what happened.
The Pit Bulls were removed by Sheriff’s deputies, according to WISN12 News and were euthanized. The investigation into the case is still open.