FORT WORTH -- Animal control officers euthanized two pit bull terrier dogs Thursday morning that attacked and critically injured a 2-year-old girl as she was being babysat by her aunt the evening before.
Lt. Ken Dean, a police spokesman, said the aunt was in the bathroom with the girl, preparing to give the child a bath, when her two dogs came into the room and began attacking the toddler.
"The aunt did everything she possibly could to defend the girl," Dean said. "The aunt actually laid down on top of the little girl while the dogs continued to inflict damage and injury to the aunt."
The girl, who has not been identified, reportedly remained in critical condition Thursday, police said. The aunt, identified in a police report as 25-year-old Chrystal Owens, was at Harris Methodist Fort Worth hospital. Her condition was not known.
The attack occurred about 6:44 p.m. inside the aunt's trailer at the Redwood Estates Mobile Home Park in southeast Fort Worth, according to a police report. Dean said the girl, who turns three next month, had been around the dogs previously that evening.
"She'd been petting the dogs, playing with the dogs. There didn’t seem to be any particular issues," Dean said.
He said the case remains under investigation by the crimes against children unit, but that no criminal charges are expected to be filed against the aunt at this time.
"All the indications so far is telling us that the aunt did pretty much everything humanly possible to protect the child," Dean said. "She never left the child alone with the dogs. There was no indication the dogs had ever been vicious or acted in such a manner in the past."
The aunt and her husband could, however, still receive citations from animal control officers.
Keane Menefee, the city's animal care and control manager, said the owners have indicated that the dogs, both adult females, were not registered or vaccinated. Menefee said the husband relinquished ownership of the two dogs to the city, allowing the dogs to be euthanized Thursday morning.
Menefee said the dogs were shipped to the Texas Department of State Health Services in Austin on Thursday morning to be tested for rabies. Results are expected by Friday afternoon, he said.
"The chances of this animal having rabies is small," Menefee said. "We don’t see a whole lot of rabies in our domestic animals."
Menefee said animal control officers typically investigate between 1,000 and 1,100 dogs bites each year.
"You have to remember, with any large breed dog, when you have a child, they don't look at that child as a miniature version of their adult master. They look at it as another animal," Menefee said. "This is an odd animal to them. It's an animal that makes unusual noises that they've never heard if they've never been around it. It's an animal that has different emotional responses than adults."
"They don't have a lot of experience around kids so their reaction is going to be, 'This is a new animal on my territory and I have to defend my territory.'"