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Pet dog kills 18-day-old girl


© St. Petersburg Times, published June 17, 2000

ST. PETERSBURG -- An 18-day-old baby severely bitten on the head by one of the two pet dogs in her home died hours later Friday after emergency surgery at All Children's Hospital.

Jasmine Dillashaw was attacked by one of the dogs when her mother, Nicole Dillashaw, briefly left her alone in a baby swing, authorities said.

"She left the room momentarily to go fix a bottle for the baby," said St. Petersburg police spokesman Rick Stelljes. "She heard the baby cry and found the baby in the swing, bleeding."

Jasmine had been bitten on the left side of her head. She was rushed to the hospital after the 11 a.m. incident in her home at 5013 Taylor St. N, off Haines Road and just east of Interstate 275.

She died at 6:40 p.m.

No one knew which dog had bitten her, so both of the large mixed-breed dogs were taken into custody. The pit bull-Labrador mix named Malachi and the German shepherd-husky mix named Bear will be held for 10 days to be checked for rabies, said Dr. Welch Agnew, assistant director of veterinary services for Pinellas County Animal Services.

After that, the two dogs likely will be euthanized, although the Dillashaw family can request a hearing to appeal the matter, Agnew said.

Authorities know of no previous incidents involving the two dogs. Police said they didn't anticipate filing charges in Friday's incident.

"The investigation is continuing. But at this point, it appears this is a very tragic accident," Stelljes said.

No one was at the family home Friday evening.

Pinellas County authorities investigate about 1,600 dog bites a year, although most bites are never reported, Agnew said.

State law requires that a county must impound any dog that inflicts a severe injury.

If the dog is found to be at fault, the county must put it to death. In deciding whether a dog is dangerous, investigators focus on whether the bite was provoked.

Once the county decides to destroy a dog, few owners appeal the decision, Agnew said.

"We may have two or three cases a month where the owner requests a hearing," he said.

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