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Child Mauled by Family Dog

Times Staff Writer

An 11-month-old girl was mauled by the family’s pit bull mix, severely damaging her face, Santa Barbara police said Friday

Police did not identify the dog’s owner or the victim, but said the woman bought the dog as a puppy. She sent the dog, named Peppe, to temporarily live with her mother last year because of the birth of her daughter. She visited the dog often but had never introduced it to the baby.

The dog’s owner and her husband decided to bring Peppe home Thursday, reasoning that the child was now old enough to be around the dog.

Police said the family gathered in the living room of their Santa Barbara apartment, with the 55-pound dog on the floor and the adults and the child on the couch.

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Almost immediately, Peppe lunged at the girl’s face, police said. Before her parents could pull the dog away, the baby’s face, forehead and scalp were punctured and cut by the dog’s teeth. Authorities said the girl will need to be treated by a surgeon specializing in severe facial trauma.

The dog was euthanized, authorities said.

Santa Barbara animal control officer Jeff Deming said jealousy probably caused the attack.

“Whenever something new is introduced in a dog’s life, whether it be another dog, a new resident or a child, the dog may feel threatened, jealousy, or a need to establish its order in the family pack,” he said.

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