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.”