A police dog was quarantined Thursday after attacking the 4-year-old son of his police officer handler in the Southern California high desert, leaving the boy with injuries were so severe that doctors had to amputate his left leg.
A neighbor who heard the horrifying screams coming from the young boy as he was mauled by Jango, a highly trained K-9, broke down the house’s fence and tried to intervene.
"I run up to the dog and kick him, and I kicked him in the back hind quarters and he still didn't release the boy," Jeff Houlemarde said. "So I jumped on top of the dog and had to pry his mouth open."
Another neighbor pulled the boy away from the dog. Rialto police say at that point, the boy's father, veteran Rialto police officer Mike Mastaler, rushed outside and put Jango back in his kennel. The boy, who was taken to Loma Linda hospital after the attack at his family’s Hesperia home on Sunday, remains hospitalized.
DeAnda said prior to the attack, Mastaler had released Jango from his kennel into the fenced in backyard to let him stretch his legs. The officer then went upstairs to change his clothes. His son was downstairs and went looking for his mom.
"This all happened within a two-minute time frame," Capt. Randy DeAnda said.
It's not clear what prompted Jango, who has been with the boy’s father for two years, to attack the boy. Since the dog was left unsupervised, Mastaler could be disciplined by Rialto police. The officer’s image is not being released because he works undercover.
DeAnda, who called Mastaler one of the department's finest officers, said the whole incident is a double tragedy. In addition to losing his son's leg, Mastaler may also lose Jango.
"Ultimately there has to be a decision made as to whether or not the dog has to be put down," DeAnda said.
According to police. Jango has never showed any signs of aggression toward people he knows.