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Police Question Owner of Akita Who Attacked Boy, 3; Dog Quarantined

Murrieta police Lt. Ron Driscoll said the owner of the Akita who attacked a 3-year-old in Lowe's was interviewed by police Sunday, and that the dog was quarantined and in custody of Animal Friends of the Valleys.

This Lowe's surveillance image—courtesy of Murrieta police—shows an Akita owner and his dog Dec. 28, 2013 in the garden center, where the dog reportedly attacked a 3-year-old boy.
This Lowe's surveillance image—courtesy of Murrieta police—shows an Akita owner and his dog Dec. 28, 2013 in the garden center, where the dog reportedly attacked a 3-year-old boy.

An Akita dog that attacked a 3-year-old boy Saturday in a Murrieta home-improvement store has been located and is in custody of animal control officials, a police lieutenant said Monday.

Murrieta police had released surveillance images in hopes of locating the dog and its owner, who allegedly fled following the incident that was reported at 11:40 a.m. Saturday in the garden center of Lowe’s, 24701 Madison Ave.

Murrieta police Lt. Ron Driscoll said the owner of the dog is a Murrieta resident who was interviewed by police Sunday, and that the dog was quarantined and in custody of Animal Friends of the Valleys.

Police are continuing their investigation; the man, whom police did not identify, had not been charged with a crime as of Monday.

“We still have interviews to conduct," Driscoll said. "It could range from an accident to an arrest-able offense. (It could be) assault if it is to the point of whether you know the dog has issues and it bites a person, now there is a recklessness to that."

When the incident occurred, the Akita was reportedly leashed as it “lashed out” at the boy, Murrieta police Sgt. Jay Froboese said.

The boy was rushed by ambulance to Inland Valley Regional Medical Center, then to a hospital in San Diego to be treated for several deep puncture wounds to his neck, jaw, forehead and below his right eye, police said, requiring dozens of stitches.

Driscoll described the injuries as moderate.

The lieutenant could not say whether the boy was near his parents when the incident occurred.

A Lowe’s representative told Patch Monday that the company was aware of the incident.

“My understanding is that an adult who was with the child notified the store management team when the incident occurred,” said Karen Cobb, spokeswoman for Lowe’s. “Law enforcement was also notified and we are working with them.”

As to whether dogs are permitted in Lowe’s, Cobb said only if they are service animals.

“Our policy is that for safety and sanitary reasons, no animals other than service animals are permitted in Lowe’s,” Cobb said. “It is clearly posted; our stores do have signs posted on the front entrance indicating that service animals are the only animals permitted.”

Iris Schulze December 31, 2013 at 12:34 AM
If the OWNER ignores the sign and takes the dog inside its his fault and his fault only. Also, I as a parent, do not leave my 3 year old out of sight! Never!
Dee December 31, 2013 at 12:44 AM
There's no stupid dogs, only stupid dog owners. Dogs are being dogs. They can be trained by much love, patience, and snacks. Dog isn't at fault, the human is. The three year old was acting like a curious little three year old. Now the little boy and the doggie are paying for it. Lowes is at fault for not enforcing their policy.
my comment December 31, 2013 at 01:37 AM
I am a dog lover and dog owner with a small child. This breed Akita is vicious in many many cases and they are way bigger than most dogs and can be aggressive and hard to control. Bad owners equal bad dogs and this instance is a shining example. Obviously a bad dog with a bad owner who offered bad training and control. This guy would likely do a hit-and-run in his vehicle as well.
Lynda StarWriter December 31, 2013 at 08:21 AM
Unfortunately we can't ask the Akita why it bit the boy. The man may not be the dog's owner, fleeing in fear of the numerous implications, no doubt. Think about it-- he's out for a casual shopping stroll, looking at flowers, mindin' his own biz when out of the blue...a freak accident. True, owner or not, the man with the dog should have stayed for all considerate intent and informative purposes. His leaving was irresponsible at best and selfish at worst. Thoughts and prayers to the toddler and his family for speedy physical and emotional recovery.
Michael December 31, 2013 at 09:32 AM
Agree with you Gina,the dogs owner should have been arrested immediately for leaving the scene and the dog should have been put down. Why didnt that happen?What possible reason could Murrieta P.D. have for not arresting him.As for Brian M.what are you talking about?try thinking before posting.
Dirk Diggler December 31, 2013 at 09:59 AM
Why won't they say the owners name? You writers here divulge the names of all the teachers and coaches who are suspected of one thing or another.
Justice For All December 31, 2013 at 10:37 AM
I would assign blame as follows: ................................................................................................ Dog Owner = 99% ; Lowes = 0.9% ; Parent ≦ 0.1% ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Clearly, the dog owner deserves to shoulder most of the blame and civil liability for the attack. Any Akita owner should know that this breed has a dangerous propensity for attacking pets and children with little or no provocation. When they bite, they bite viciously. Owners have a duty to keep Akitas away from any location where there is the slightest chance of this type of encounter. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- If the dog owner bears no criminal culpability for the attack and fleeing the scene with his dog, he certainly deserves to pay punitive damages in addition to his liability for injuries. ============================================== Lowe's should accept a small amount of vicarious responsibility for this attack. They maintain a corporate policy prohibiting pets inside their stores except for service dogs. But in practice, they've demonstrated not only an arbitrary lack of enforcement, but many customers relate that employees apparently encourage a "dog friendly" policy. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- It is certainly the right of any business to choose to allow dogs inside or not, but they should adequately post the policy to warn customers before entering. Lowe's has created an ambiguous situation which needlessly jeopardizes the health and safety of some customers. ============================================== I've given the least amount of blame to the parent. We can only assume that the father of this 3yo toddler was either negligent for not exercising enough control over his son, or negligent for allowing his son to encounter a strange dog, with or without the owner's consent.
Justice For All December 31, 2013 at 10:38 AM
@Michael -- The CA Vehicle Code obviously has laws regarding financial responsibility and hit & run. But there is no equivalent laws in the Penal Code that would apply to this situation. There are some Public Safety laws which may loosely apply, but the police have elected (appropriately) to have the DA make a determination. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- @Dirk -- Police will not divulge the name of anyone under investigation, unless they have been officially charged with a crime.
kristin c December 31, 2013 at 11:05 AM
If Lowes has a no dog policy, an employee should have told this man to take his dog out of the store. You can bet if he lit a cigarette in there, he'd have been told to extinguish it. Second, where were the parents of this child? When you take a 3 year old out shopping, you don't take your eyes off of him for a second! If little Johnny had crawled atop a tractor and fell off, would that have been the tractor's or Lowes' fault? No, the fault would lie with the parent. If this had happened to my child I would only be kicking myself for not watching my child. Unless this dog somehow broke loose of his owner, the only crime the owner committed was being stupid enough to take his dog into a store.
RD December 31, 2013 at 11:17 AM
Maybe the dog owner left to remove the dog from the situation as to not hurt someone else? After an attack, a dog doesn't just go calm. Maybe in his mind it was better to leave and take the dog home rather than take the chance of hurting someone else....
John J. Smith December 31, 2013 at 11:36 AM
The owner should have taken the dog to his vehicle and then returned to the store to render aid and take responsibility. He clearly had a "hit and run mentality." Also the parents bear no responsibility for this. Kids are children, which means they are naturally inquisitive. I have been in Loew's many times and have seen non-service pets, they are in for a lawsuit.
SA December 31, 2013 at 11:49 AM
Akita’s are great “family” dogs, however they have no business being out in the public as they protect their family to no end regardless if it is a harmless child… The owner needs to be put down not the dog…
TSManning December 31, 2013 at 11:59 AM
Butif you don't want your dog to break the law you don't put him in situations where he will
Mrs. Opinion December 31, 2013 at 12:32 PM
What is it with the people from southwest riverside county? Why do all issues break down to liberals VS conservatives, mainly in the conservatives mind? If the dog has never attacked before it stands a great chance of surviving. I know, a huge disappointment to a lot of you. Maybe go out today and help a neighbor and get off the computer where you sit judge and jury over a situation that you don't have all the facts about. To the man who's dog this was if you are reading this, not everyone judges, most do not want to see your dog put down. Yup you screwed up big time, but should not mean you should not be forgiven. I hope you can now step up and do the right thing with the patents and child, but if lawyers are already involved there cannot be any contact between parties.
Zygo December 31, 2013 at 12:59 PM
Dog owners are aware of what dogs are capable of doing. An owner of an Akita is very aware that it is a guard dog breed. Not everyone else is aware of particular breeds...parents that know the dangers don't allow their children to approach a leashed dog. That is why more responsibility is on the dog owner. ................................................................................................Re the police. Good job. For those attacking their not immediately arresting the owner - you are showing your lack of understanding of investigative procedures and particularly Miranda. Better to have a good investigation and conviction than a quick arrest for the public and no conviction.
Mrs. Opinion December 31, 2013 at 01:06 PM
I read where a former neighbor has stated the owner of the dog has had a stroke, I would not bet the house there will be an arrest. And frankly I want to know where the father was when this occurred. What the child did or did not do will also play into the outcome. Of course it is not the child's fault but all pieces must be there for the puzzle to be complete. However I was not a witness and any witness out there will probably not comment at this time. Which makes all of this nothing but speculation.
NELLY December 31, 2013 at 01:09 PM
Mrs. Opinion the story was not about the owner of Akita who bit boy! It was another story! The man who owns Akita who bit boy, lives in old town his name is Robert!
Maryjane Cannabliss December 31, 2013 at 01:33 PM
Let me say this, if the boy had climbed up on a shelf fallen and got hurt so many would be asking why the father was not watching his child. But because there is a dog involved the father of the child must be a stellar parent and holds no responsibility? Who knows? No one knows what happened on that end. Maybe the Dad was right there and it happened so quick nothing could be done. Maybe the Dad was pre-occupied with his errands and was not diligent in watching his child. I don't know. I'll go as far as to bet most of you don't either. Would love to hear from those of you that actually knows the parties involved or was a witness, you know, educated opinions not just spewing crap about the guy and his dog.
Dirk Diggler December 31, 2013 at 02:29 PM
Pretty sad. A guys dog mails a 3 year old kid at lowes AND leaves the scene but his name is concealed. The poor tuba teacher gets his name dragged through the mud on something he probably didn't do (since the patch didn't follow up on any conviction because I bet ther wasn't one). Maggie , shame on you.
Aaron Powers December 31, 2013 at 02:40 PM
____________________________________________________ ========================================= -------------------------------------------------------------------------- ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Yours truly, Justice for All
Dee December 31, 2013 at 03:54 PM
Why is the doggie's name not revealed, hmmmm??
Susan Down December 31, 2013 at 04:30 PM
Very funny Aaron... But keep in mind that despite hitting "enter" twice, the platform running the Patch's comments section will not break independent thoughts into paragraphs. That said, Justice for All is onto something. I used to wonder about all the dashes, but now it makes total sense.
Aaron Powers December 31, 2013 at 04:56 PM
I know, Susan Down, I was just having some fun... Justice's practice makes very perfect sense for this comment format.
Warren December 31, 2013 at 08:11 PM
I questioned a Lowe's employee a few months ago about dog's being in the store (someone had just entered the store with two dogs.) I was told that they(employees) were told not to say anything because a fear of lawsuit from someone claiming they needed the dog for mental reasons and not physical. By that, I believe they mean depression, anxiety, etc.. Apparently service dogs are trained mostly for physical disabilities? I am merely expressing what an employee told me. I personally would appreciate it if people would keep their pets out of stores.
Psychic One January 01, 2014 at 08:22 AM
Dee what difference does it make whether or not the dogs name has not been revealed? What? Are we all going to be on the look out for a dog named "Boo"?
Justice For All January 01, 2014 at 09:05 AM
FYI: The dog's name is "Chester." He is a 3yo Akita Inu.
ChrisG January 01, 2014 at 09:12 AM
I am surprised the father of the child did not grab whatever was handy off a shelf to beat the dog to death, then beat the owner.
Dee January 01, 2014 at 10:25 AM
Psychic one, sorry, my poor attempt at humor.
Maggie Avants (Editor) January 02, 2014 at 07:20 PM
UPDATE: Police Arrest Owner of Akita That Bit 3-Year-Old in Lowe's http://murrieta.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/police-arrest-owner-of-akita-that-bit-3yearold-in-lowes
Hellen McCoy January 04, 2014 at 02:52 AM
Put the dog down, Sue Lowes and leave this man in jail.

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