Family decides to euthanize dog after baby mauled

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The owners of a dog that attacked three family members, including two children, have asked that their pet be euthanized, according to Maricopa County Animal Care and Control.

The family surrendered Bellah to animal control late Thursday afternoon, after initially saying they would like their Akita back at the end of the quarantine period.

Bellah, who is about 8 years old and weighs 95 pounds, mauled a 9-month-old girl in the family's Tempe home Tuesday afternoon. She suffered severe head injuries and remained in a hospital in critical condition Thursday.

"It was shocking," neighbor Dan Crawford said. "Obviously, you're not expecting to have that kind of thing in your neighborhood. ... I have a dog and I walk by this home every day, and who knows when it got out what would happen."

The family has also requested that Bellah be tested for rabies.

Bellah is in bite quarantine at animal control's west shelter in Phoenix as the agency waits to hear back from a state labratory.

Animal control spokeswoman Melissa Gable said if the lab approves the family's request, Bellah will be put down and sent to the lab for rabies testing.

"It's a terrible choice to make but one that I think is obvious. I think you have to," Crawford said.

Maricopa County Animal Care and Control first learned of Bellah in 2012, after the dog mauled an 8-year-old girl's face. She went to a hopsital and received stitches.

Animal control says Bellah's owners did not report the attack, which is required by law, but the hospital did.

"At that point in 2012, we did try to reach out to the owners," Gable said. "They were not cooperative. The address that they gave us did not take us to a residence."

A couple of months ago, the Akita bit her adult owner. Animal control says the family did not report that incident either.

"We were kind of just left dangling and then again we got another report this week saying the same dog had bitten another child," Gable said.

Because all of the attacks happened  to members of the family at their home, it was up to Bellah's owners to decide her fate.

"We do not have the authority, the legal authority, to go in and seize a dog," Gable said. "In Arizona, the dog is considered property, so we are not allowed to go in and take an animal."

However, Tempe police are investigating and say the parents could face criminal charges.